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“It was difficult, later, to think of a time when Betsy and Tacy had not been friends,” begins the first section in Maud Hart Lovelace’s book, Betsy-Tacy. Elizabeth Ray (Betsy) and Anastasia Kelly, (Tacy) had been friends ever since Betsy’s fifth birthday party. Since that day, they were inseparable. They had picnics on top of the hill at the end of their street, they made a clubhouse in an old piano box behind Betsy’s house, they made a sand store, selling bottles filled with different colored sands. They did everything together.

Then, the Mullers move into the neighborhood. Thelma (Tib) Muller is just the same age as Betsy and Tacy, and the three become fast friends. Betsy and Tacy are fascinated by Tib. She is little, and dainty, she lives in a chocolate-colored house with a pane of colored glass over the window. And she is from a far-away place called Milwaukee.

Although some think that the three will not get along as well as just Betsy and Tacy had, they do. They never quarrel with each other, although they do often quarrel with Julia and Katie, Betsy’s and Tacy’s elder sisters.

While the three girls are as close as could be, they do not exclude the other girls in their little town of Deep Valley. Other characters flit in and out of the series, such as Winona Root, Caroline Sibley, as well as Betsy’s two sisters, Julia and Margaret.

As the series progresses, following the girls through grade school, high school, and beyond, they focus more on Betsy. But it would be impossible to have a book about Betsy that did not include Tacy and Tib, although as the three get older, Betsy is put more in the spotlight than the other two.

As Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries writes, “Slipping into a Betsy book is like slipping into a well-worn pair of slippers.” Although the plots are smaller, and less exciting than some popular adventure books, the Betsy books hold a charm within their pages that speak of real life, and real joys and sorrows in a girl’s life at the turn of the century.

Although at the beginning, the girls are only five years old, it is worth reading the series from the beginning, even if you think that books about five-year-old girls are too young for you. At thirteen, I enjoy them just as much as I did at seven. And as the girls grow older, the books become better and better, although they are more mature than the first few.

The books speak even more strongly of the truth because a lot of the events in the books are autobiographical. Betsy is based very closely on Maud Hart Lovelace herself, while Tacy and Tib are based off of Maud’s real best friends, Bick (Tacy) and Midge (Tib). And these truthful elements make this coming-of-age series set at the turn of the century is one to be re-read and treasured for years to come.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. HarperCollins, 1940. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

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