Betsy and Tacy is not a story we know much about in the UK. I came across it first on the lovely Katie’s blog and, as we share a love of Anne of Green Gables, I knew I had to give it a go. It was challenging to find any Betsy and Tacy books here in London, impossible in fact, and so I had to turn to the internet. Then, a couple of weeks ago The Betsy – Tacy Treasury arrived at my door. It contains four stories, tracing Betsy Ray and her friends Tacy and Tib from the ages of five to around 12. For my British readers, who might not have heard about this series before, it is written by Maud Hart Lovelace and is based on her own childhood in Minnesota, USA. The stories are charming, very old fashioned (the feminist in me was cringing at some of the views about women so if you read them, do take them as a product of their time!) and comforting. My favourite by far was Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown where a lovely Christmas scene just warmed the cockles of my heart. There was also a wonderful description of the moment Betsy and her friends see their first ‘horseless carriage’.
Reading The Betsy and Tacy Treasury and also an email conversation with my friend Cristina, who sometimes comments here, got me thinking about classic children’s books this week. Cristina asked me about the books children read in primary school in the UK so she could share them with her sister, who is working in a school in Colombia. As I thought about this, and the other books I enjoyed reading between the ages of about seven and ten, I realised that some of these books stay with you for your whole life. You might have read them in school, or had them read to you at bedtime, or read them by yourself on a rainy afternoon and somehow they found a little permanent little place in your personality.
Here is a short list of some of those children’s books that have always stayed with me. I’m sure if I’d grown up in America, Betsy and Tacy would have been on this list too.
What would be on your list? (*scurries off to try to track down the other Betsy and Tacy books!)