Harper Collins has recently re-published the High School books from the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace, hooray! I have adored these books since I was a little girl, and I still re-read them every year or so.
Maud based all the books on her own childhood and high school experiences in the early 20th century. Nearly every character in her books has a real-life counterpart (Betsy is real-life Maud, Betsy’s best friend, Tacy, is real-life Bick, etc.) Maud had a very happy childhood and a loving, supportive family so the books are very warm and cozy, though never sticky-sweet, and Betsy certainly does have problems of her own. Hair that won’t curl on its own and teeth parted in the middle. Being asked to the school dance by the wrong boy. Oh, that herbarium! And wretched Gaston and the rosy apple blossoms! And why won’t Joe Willard join their Crowd??
In an attempt to recruit some new readers and help these lovely new editions sell well, the publisher sent free copies of the first book, the combined “Heaven to Betsy” and “Betsy in Spite of Herself”, to members of a Betsy-Tacy fan email list of which I am a member. We’re divided into two societies, just as the kids in Betsy’s high school are — the Philomathians and the Zetamathians. (I was randomly assigned to be a Philo – go Philos! We have all the cutest boys and sweetest girls!) We’re competing to see which team can recruit the most new readers. The winning team gets an inscribed paving stone outside Betsy’s (Maud’s) childhood home!
I sent my copy to a young friend in England. She’s 11, just the right age for the High School books, though I hope she’ll read the earlier books someday, too. I thought it would be fun for her to see a bit of our cultural history through Betsy’s eyes and get to be friends with Betsy, Tacy, Tib, Tony, Cab, Julia, Margaret, Mr. and Mrs. Ray, Anna, and everyone in Deep Valley. Her book arrived and she’s already reading it, and likes it! Hooray!
Here she is with her new book:
Hope you’re still enjoying it, my Scrabble-friend :) I’d love to discuss it with you!
These new editions are very fine. There is even extra material in the back taken from Sharla Whalen’s wonderful Betsy-Tacy Companion — biographical info and photos of Betsy/Maud’s family and friends, houses, schools, etc. Lots of fun! All three new books are on my Christmas list for sure.
Philo, Philo, Philomathains for the win!!