Between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Maud Hart Lovelace, the Upper Midwest in the 1930s and 40s did more than it's share in writing really good stories for children. Apparently, Lovelace has such a loyal following that a Betsy-Tacy convention has been held in Lovelace's home town and the series' setting, Mankato, MN/"Deep Valley". Whether or not the stories are convention-worthy I can't say. But three-year-old Sigourney loved the read along so much that I can say the stories resonate with little ones. I would describe the black-and-white illustrations of Lois Lenski as surprisingly lush and adorable. The combination of solid written and visual story-telling made Betsy-Tacy
a lot of fun for dad and daughter to read together.
I love that Lovelace titled the book Betsy-Tacy
and not Betsy and Tacy
. The two five-year-old girls are too close to have their names separated by additional spaces and letters. Once Tacy and her family move in across the street, Betsy and Tacy's adventures begin. They play with paper dolls, dress up in adult clothes to call on neighbors, picnic, sell sand, climb hills, start school, take imaginary buggy trips to the magical lands of Milwaukee and St. Paul, and care deeply for one another. It's as if Betsy and Tacy have a telepathic (or at least deeply empathic) connection with one another, showing up for the other during trying times like death in the family or the jealousy-inducing birth of a baby sister.
One scene in particular made me misty. Tacy's baby sister Bee dies of an illness, and Betsy meets Tacy outside. They end up hiking together and putting an Easter Egg in a tree in Baby Bee's honor. Betsy shares with Tacy her belief that a bird will lug the egg to Heaven and give the gift to Baby Bee. That's pastoral care from a five-year-old! I think I was watching crayons melt in the Oklahoma sun at her age. But I digress.
With all this said, I very much enjoyed doing the reading, and Sigourney loved listening and telling me about the detail she found in each picture. A fun read along!