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Children's LiteratureHaywood's "Betsy" books have been well loved by children since they were published in the 1930s. In this book, Betsy is six-years-old and about to start school. She has heard negative things about school, so she is afraid to go. However, school turns out to be nothing at all like what she expected. Her classroom is large and sunny, and her teacher is pretty and nice. She quickly makes a special friend. She learns about tadpoles turning into frogs. She gets lost when she walks to school for the first time, but then happens to meet the wife of the school crossing guard who comforts her until the crossing guard returns and takes Betsy to school. Many teachers, parents and children will welcome the re-issue of this book. It is an easy book for beginning readers. However, I find the dialogue quite stilted. Also, Betsy's naiveté and her picture perfect, all-white, upper middle class surroundings may make it difficult for readers to relate to her. I would recommend that teachers who use this book talk about the differences between Betsy's world and the world as it is today. They could also balance the story by pairing it with a story of a modern child in a more diverse environment. 2004 (orig. 1939), Odyssey Classics/Harcourt, Ages 6 to 10.
—Kathy Egner, Ph.D.