Monday, March 17, 2008

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

Finished Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace. This is the fourth book in the Besy-Tacy series. I read the other three to my daughter when she was much younger. Betsy, Tacy and Tib are now twelve, old enough to go downtown and have various adventures. Betsy visits the new Carnegie Library. She's has read all the books her family has at home, so her parents suggest that she visit the new library. She goes one Saturday, applies for a card and has some pocket money for lunch at the drugstore.

A number of plays come to Deep Valley. The first is Uncle Tom's Cabin. I found this ironic since I was reading Uncle Tom's Cabin myself at the time. Rip Van Winkle also comes and all the girls are able to participate in the performance. Other literary works mentioned are The Pickwick Papers (funny, I'm reading this right now too) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The series is set at the beginning of the twentieth century. Tib gets a ride in the first horseless carriage in town. These books were written and published in the 1940s and 50s. As the characters grow in age the reading level of the books advances. The illustrations were done by Lois Lensky. Lensky won the Newbery Award for Strawberry Girl in 1946. The Betsy-Tacy illustrations are simple line drawings. Lenski's illustrations for her own book are softer, more detailed charcoal drawings.

These books are based on Maud Hart Loevlace's own childhood. Deep Valley is modeled after Mankato, MN where there is a Betsy-Tacy Society and the houses that Maud (Betsy) and Frances "Bick" Kenney (Tacy) lived in have been restored. Portions of the restoration were performed by PBS's show "Hometime."

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