Oh, Dear Betsy!

It seems strange to be writing a blog post about a novel while the attention of the entire nation is focussed on the election. I care deeply about our country and what happens to it, but I am not one to get on Facebook and hash out my feelings in negative comments and posts. I say, if you can do something, do it, if you can’t, accept it with grace.

So, my life will go on, happily, as it has been. And that means it will include lots of the reading of good books!

The first series I want to review is the Betsy books, or The Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace. There are 10 total books in the series, 4 encompassing Betsy’s younger years (age 5-10) and 6 encompassing her older years (High school and a few years to follow). It’s almost like there are two separate series, and you can treat them that way because they’re angled toward different age groups. Because of this, I’m only going to review the first four today and I’ll do the last 6 in a later post.

I could see myself introducing the first 4 books to my daughter at age 6-7, but not the last 6. They probably wouldn’t even interest her at that time since they concern high school hopes and woes :).

So here we go!

the-betsy-tacy-treasury

  1. Betsy-Tacy:

Reading Level: 4.2

Interest Level: Grades 3-5

Overview: In which Betsy and Tacy meet at 5 years old. Betsy is the protagonist of the book and it’s told in 3rd person, but from her perspective. Tacy moves in to the house across from Betsy, but Betsy’s one attempt to befriend her doesn’t end well until they meet again at Betsy’s 5th birthday party where she discovers that Tacy is very, very timid.

Comments: What I love about this book is that each chapter is its own little story, which I think is nice for beginning readers. Some chapters do refer to previous chapters, but when they do they recap enough so that you can understand even without remembering what that chapter was about. This is nice if you want to read one chapter a night together.

Trigger Warnings: (SPOILER-ish) Tacy’s baby sister dies in one of the chapters. Betsy helps comfort her and they put a present in a robin’s nest in hopes it will get carried up to heaven. It’s very sweet, but can be difficult for anyone who’s experienced loss.

2. Betsy, Tacy and Tib

Reading Level: 4.2

Interest Level: Grades 3-5

Overview: Betsy and Tacy go “calling” dressed up in their mothers’ clothing and leave one of Betsy’s mother’s calling cards at a house they find particularly enchanting. Little did they know a girl just their age had just moved in there, Tib. She becomes the third member of the gang and they go on lots of adventures together.

Comments: My favorite part about this book is how eagerly Tacy and Betsy welcome Tib into their friendship and how kind they all are to each other. It teaches children that they can have trios (or larger) of friends and not exclude each other, or if they find they are not involved in EVERY doing, they can learn to not feel left out.

Trigger Warnings: In this book, I can’t think of anything that would trigger anything.

3. Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill

Reading Level: 4.2

Interest Level: Grades 3-5

Overview: Aside from their usual adventures, the main event is when Tib and Betsy’s sister Julia compete for being the Queen of May. They both had the idea around the same time and when each of them discovers the others’ plans they become furious with each other. Their father suggests they let the neighbors vote for who they want to be queen, so each group runs around feverishly having friends and neighbors sign a piece of paper.

Comments: This book introduces the concept of patriotism to young people. Instead of having a “May Queen,” they decide to have an “American Queen” and for the first time ever Betsy, Tacy, and Tib feel proud to be Americans. This can be a great conversation starter for you and your children about the difference between American pride and American elitism.

Possible Trigger Warnings: Betsy, Tacy and Tib meet a Syrian girl who turns out to be a Syrian princess. However, her father wants to leave everything about Syria behind and fully integrate himself and his family into American society. I guess this could be a trigger for those who have other cultures in their lives aside from just American. You probably don’t want them to abandon all that. For example, my daughter is half African. I would never want her to think that either one of the cultures she belongs to is better than the other or worth giving up.

4. Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

Reading Level: 4.2

Interest Level: Grades 3-5

Overview: Each one of their trio turns 10! Each of them expects to feel different as soon as they enter the two digit age, but are surprised to find it nearly the same. As the book goes on though, they do begin to notice small changes in the way they perceive the world as they get older. Eventually, Betsy’s parents allow her to walk downtown all by herself to go to the library and check out books, since she’s read all that there are in the house.

Comments: I love books that deal with the subject of growing up. It’s such a confusing and difficult time in a child’s life and it’s helpful to know that they’re not the only ones going through it. It can also help parents remember what it was like to go through it and how to help your children transition. (For another book that does a great job describing the growing up process, see A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. This book is for older readers, and I’ll be reviewing it soon.)

Trigger Warnings: None that I can think of.

 

Well there it is, folks! My very first book review! Please comment below and let me know your thoughts. Was it too long? Anything you’d like me to include or not include?

Thank you very much!

Sincerely, Francie

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Ravenous for Books…

In case you didn’t get it from the title of the blog…I love to read. Just about everything, although lately I’ve found myself wandering frequently into the girl’s tween section of the library. Ruling out midlife crisis as the cause, since I’m (hopefully) not yet to the middle of my life, I think it may have to do with having a daughter. She can’t read yet, unless you count babbling and squealing at picture board books. She’s 1. But a mom has got to be prepared, don’t you think?

That’s why I’m going to be starting off this blog with some reviews about The Little House on the Prairie series, Anne of Green Gables, The Mother Daughter Book Club series and the like. However, if you have a boy, or you’re into non-fiction, there’s more coming for you.

When not devouring children’s books I enjoy reading books like How Children Learn, and The China Study, which I will also be reviewing. (Yes, I do take requests, although I need to be allowed enough time to read the book in my very busy schedule.)

Now, there’s a definite “taboo” when it comes to an unpublished nobody (me) reviewing world-renown classics (like Anne of Green Gables). However, I’d like to use the word “reporting” instead of “critiquing” in cases like these. If you’re a mom, or a student, or a working person, or human, you have limited time and a LOT of books to sift through. That’s why I’m here. I give you the quick overview, thoughts, and maybe an excerpt or two to help you out on your search for a book that won’t make you feel like you’ve wasted time you could’ve been watching The Bachelor*.

I was thinking about doing star ratings, but I’m not good at those things. When they ask me at the doctor’s office to rate my pain from 1-10, I’m like, “compared to what?” I can’t wrap my brain around it. A little like Brian Regan in this bit.

So instead of star ratings I’m just going to give you the low down and maybe some triggers that you’ll want to be aware of. I may even throw in some post-book activities you can do with your kids after reading (I’m thinking like a mom again), or you can do them by yourself, you adventurer, you! Let’s go forth!

I’ll be posting weekly, see you on the flip side!

Sincerely, Francie

*I’ve never watched the Bachelor.