A brief article in the New York Times today announced that HarperCollins has published a brand-new edition of Maude Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy Series that includes the first four books in one paperback volume with the original illustrations by the wonderful Lois Lenski, Newbery winner for Strawberry Girl in 1946. The new edition also includes a forward by a stellar trio of young adult writers: Judy Blume, Ann M. Martin and Johanna Hurwitz! This book is available for purchase now and I highly recommend it to anyone with young listeners/readers who can't get enough of Laura Ingalls Wilder but might be a bit too young for Lucy Maude Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. The series takes place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a small town in Minnesota and follows Besty for six more books, including one that details her wedding. As Pamela Paul says in her article, pondering the excitement for books of ilk, that, besides the, "idealized friendship between Besty Ray and Tacy Kelly, epitomized in that magnificent hyphen linking the two names together, testament to their girlish bond," there was also a vast sense of independence that Betsy and Tacy had, whether it was running through nature, eating dinner together, alone, on an outside bench that sits between their houses or being left alone unattended while a parent goes into town. Paul ends by saying,
In the sweet, safe sanctuary of Deep Valley, Minn., more than 100 years ago, such things were possible, at least in Betsy-Tacy's universe. It's a far cry from the overprotective, omni-parented world of 21st-century America with its myriad threats, real and imaginary. After reading aloud a few chapters to my own six-year-old daughter recently, my daughter sighed and said simply, 'I want to live in this book.' She's probably not the only one.
While I have been aware of the Betsy-Tacy Series for a while, as well as the fervor that surrounds them - much like Montgomery and Anne, there are societies that have sprung up around these books, both for the characters (Betsy-Tacy Society) and author (Maude Hart Lovelace) - I have not gotten around to reading them (until now - review to come!!) mostly for two reasons. As you can see by the covers below, the last iteration of these books have a dated, boring feel to them. Also, for quite a while now, many titles in the ten book series have been out of print.
However, I did notice recently while cruising through the adult fiction section of the bookstore, that some books in the series had been reissued for adults, and with charming new covers.
However, I am thrilled to see that I can now get the first four books in one lovely edition and am going dive into the world of Deep Valley, Minn., right away!