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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064400961
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/14/2007
Series: Betsy-Tacy Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 97,542
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.36(d)
Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980) based her Betsy-Tacy series on her own childhood. Her series still boasts legions of fans, many of whom are members of the Betsy-Tacy Society, a national organization based in Mankato, Minnesota.

In addition to illustrating the first four Betsy-Tacy books, Lois Lenski (1893-1974) was the 1946 Newberry Medal winning author of Strawberry Girl.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Betsy Meets Tacy

It was difficult, later, to think of a time when Betsy and Tacy had not been friends. Hill Street came to regard them almost as one person. Betsy's brown braids went with Tacy's red curls, Betsy's plump legs with Tacy's spindly ones, to school and from school, up hill and down, on errands and in play. So that when Tacy had the mumps and Betsy was obliged to make her journeys alone, saucy boys teased her: "Where's the cheese, apple pie?" "Where's your mush, milk?" As though she didn't feel lonesome enough already! And Hill Street knew when Sunday came, even without listening to the rolling bells, for Betsy Ray and Tacy Kelly (whose parents attended different churches), set off down Hill Street separately, looking uncomfortable and strange.

But on this March afternoon, a month before Betsy's fifth birthday, they did not know each other. They had not even seen each other, unless Betsy had glimpsed Tacy, without knowing her for Tacy, among the children of assorted sizes moving into the house across the street. Betsy had been kept in because of bad weather, and all day she had sat with her nose pasted to the pane. It was exciting beyond words to have a family with children moving into that house.

Hill Street was rightfully named. It ran straight up into a green hill and stopped. The name of the town was Deep Valley, and a town named Deep Valley naturally had plenty of hills. Betsy's house, a small yellow cottage, was the last house on her side of Hill Street, and the rambling white house opposite was the last house on that side. So of course it wasvery important. And it had been empty ever since Betsy could remember.

"I hope whoever moves in will have children," Betsy's mother had said.

"Well, for Pete's sake!" said Betsy's father. "Hill Street is so full of children now that Old Mag has to watch out where she puts her feet down."

"I know," said Betsy's mother. "There are plenty of children for Julia." (Julia was Betsy's sister, eight years old.) "And there are dozens of babies. But there isn't one little girl just Betsy's age. And that's what I'm hoping will come to the house across the street."

That was what Betsy hoped, too. And that was what she had been watching for all day as she sat at the dining room window. She was certain there must be such a little girl. There were girls of almost every size and boys to match, milling about the moving dray and in and out of the house. But she wasn't sure. She hadn't absolutely seen one.

She had watched all day, and now the dining room was getting dark. Julia had stopped practicing her music lesson, and Mrs. Ray had lighted the lamp in the kitchen.

The March snow lay cold and dirty outside the window, but the wind had died down, and the western sky, behind the house opposite, was stained with red.

The furniture had all been carried in, and the dray was gone. A light was shining in the house. Suddenly the front door opened, and a little girl ran out. She wore a hood beneath which long red ringlets spattered out above her coat. Her legs in their long black stockings were thin.

It was Tacy, although Betsy did not know it!

She ran first to the hitching block, and bounced there on her toes a minute, looking up at the sky and all around. Then she ran up the road to the point where it ended on the hill. Some long-gone person had placed a bench there. It commanded the view down Hill Street. The little girl climbed up on this bench and looked intently into the dusk.

"I know just how she feels," thought Betsy with a throb. "This is her new home. She wants to see what it's like." She ran to her mother.

"Mamma!" she cried. "There's the little girl my age. Please let me go out! Just a minute! Please!"

Mrs. Ray was moved by the entreaty. She looked out at the colored sky.

"It does seem to be clearing up," she said. "But you could only stay a minute. Do you want to go to the bother of putting on your things . . ."

"Oh, yes, yes!"

"Overshoes and mittens and everything?"

"Yes, really!"

Betsy flew to the closet, but she could not find her pussy hood. The mittens were twisted on the string inside her coat.

"Mamma! Help me! Please! She'll be gone."

"Help her, Julia," called Betsy's mother, and Julia helped, and at last the pussy hood was tied, and the coat buttoned, and the overshoes buckled, and the mittens pulled on.

Outside the air was fresh and cold. The street lamp had been lighted. It was exciting just to be out at this hour, even without the prospect of meeting the new little girl. But the new little girl still stood on the bench looking down the street.

Betsy ran toward her. She ran on the sidewalk as far as it went. Then she took to the frozen rutty road, and she had almost reached the bench when the little girl saw her.

"Hello!" called Betsy. "What's your name?"

The other child made no answer. She jumped off the bench.

"Don't go!" cried Betsy. "I'm coming."

But the other child without a word began to run. She brushed past Betsy on her headlong flight down the hill. She ran like a frightened rabbit, and Betsy ran in pursuit.

"Wait! Wait!" Betsy panted as she ran. But the new child would not stop. On fleet, black-stockinged legs she ran, faster than Betsy could follow.

"Wait! Wait!" pleaded Betsy but the child did not turn her head. She gained her own lawn, floundered through the snow to her house.

The entrance to her house was through a storm shed. She ran into this and banged the door. The door had a pane of glass in the front, and through that pane she stared fearfully at Betsy.

Betsy-Tacy. Copyright © by Maud Lovelace. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide


Around 1897, in Mankato, Minnesota, Maud Hart Lovelace met two girls -- Bick Kenney and Midge Gerlach. The three soon formed a trio that would be inseparable in their youth and remain friendly throughout their adult lives. Many years later, Maud told her daughter, Merian, bedtime stories about her girlhood adventuresw ith Bick and Midge. Soon, she developed these tales into a popular series of books that was first published in the 1940s. Mankato was transformed into Deep Valley, Minnesota, around the turn of the 20th century. Maud became friendly storyteller Betsy Ray, Bick became shy, redheaded Tacy Kelly, and Midge became the practical, yet fun-loving, Tib Muller.

The series begins with a fast friendship between Betsy and Tacy, who soon enjoy such fun as picnics on the bench on the Big Hill and dressing up and calling on neighbors. When Tib moves into the chocolate-colored house nearby, she quickly becomes Betsy and Tacy's other best friend. Many of their fictional adventures are based on Maud's real experiences with Bick and Midge.

As they grow older, Betsy's, Tacy's, and Tib's world grows larger. They climb over the Big Hill that had always seemed so high and enjoy such downtown delights as riding in horseless carriages and going to the theater. High-school introduces them to a new social life, and many members of their Crowd are also based on real people in Maud's life.

Even though the Betsy-Tacy books wree written so long ago, timeless themes of friendship, family, and love continue to teach us about our past and what we dream for our future. And they remain the perfect bedtime sotries to be shared bya mother and a daughter. The discussion topics, suggested reading list, and author biography in this reading group guide are intended to spark discussion about the wonderful characters and stirring adventures in this enchanting series.

Discussion Questions

  1. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib spend a lot of time together. They hike up the Big Hill, make up stories, and go to dances together. Which of their adventures sound like fun to both of you? Mothers, what do you like to do with your best friends now? What did you used to love doing when you were younger? Share your childhood adventures with your daughter. Ask her what her favorite activities with her friends are: playing a certain game, watching a movie together, drawing, acting, etc.

  2. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib form the TCKC club in elementary school, and the Okto Delta sorority as high-school juniors. What do they do in each of these clubs? Why do they decide to end the Okto Delta sorority? Have either of you ever been in a club? If so, what are some of your memories of it? Did you enjoy it? If not, is there a reason you haven't joined a club? What sounds appealing about clubs? .

  3. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib begin some traditions among themselves, as well as sharing in family traditions. For instance, Betsy and Tacy sing the Cat Duet at the school recital every year, and the Rays' Sunday Night Lunch is a tradition that draws many of Betsy's high-school friends. What are some of the other traditions in the Betsy-Tacy books? What are some traditions that you and your family and friends have? Are there any you'd like to start? .

  4. The mothers of Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are all different. What do you think about how the mothers and daughters act with each other in the series? How are Mrs. Ray, Mrs. Kelly, and Mrs. Muller different? What do you like about them? Do they do some of the same things that your mother does or did? Tell each other what you like and sometimes find frustrating about your mother. .

  5. Maud Hart Lovelace based the Betsy-Tacy series on people from her life and experiences that she had. You can learn about some of the actual events and people from her life that appear in the books by reading the biographical section at the end of the books and looking at the pictures. Does reading about these people or places change what you think of the books? Which of these details do you find most interesting? If you were to write a book, which people, places, or experiences from your own life might you include? .

  6. In elementary school, Betsy, Tacy, and Tib loved to climb the Big Hill, and in high-school the Crowd spends much time at the ice cream parlor. Where are some of the other places the characters spend a lot of time? What was it about each of these places that continued to draw the characters back? What are some of your favorite places to go? What do each of you enjoy doing at these places? Do others accompany you? .

  7. Throughout the series, the characters witness many changes. Horse-drawn carriages are the primary mode of transportation at the beginning of the series. By the end, Betsy and her high-school friends are driving around in an automobile. What are some of the other inventions and changes that Betsy, Tacy, and Tib live through? How do those changes affect their lives? What are some objects that have been invented or become popular since both of you were born? What are some historical events that you have lived through? How do you think they have made you different? .

  8. Betsy spends a lot of time telling stories, and then writing them. She even sends some away to magazines. Do either of you enjoy writing or telling stories? If so, what are some that you are proud of, or that you have particularly enjoyed? If not, how do you prefer to share things with others? .

  9. When Margaret is born, Betsy gets upset because she isn't the baby of the family anymore. She also gets made when Julia tries to be the Queen of Summer. Other times, the Ray sisters get along famously. Hat are some of the situations in which Betsy and her sisters see things differently? What are some happy times they have together? If you have siblings, how do you act with them? If not, what are some things you like and don't like about it? .

  10. In the later books of the series, Betsy, Tacy, and Tib attend high school and Betsy eventually marries, as do her friends. Mothers, what are some similarities between their high-school experiences and your own? Daughters, what are some of the things you liked about Deep Valley High School that you wish to occur when you are in high school? .

About the Author and Illustrators

Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980) is the beloved author of the Betsy-Tacy books, as well as many other books for adults and children.

In addition to illustrating the first four Betsy-Tacy books, Lois Lenski (1893-1974) was the Newbery Medal-winning author of Strawberry Girl.

Vera Neville illustrated six of the Betsy-Tacy books as well as three Deep Valley Books.

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Betsy-Tacy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whenever someone I know has a new baby girl, I give them the book Betsy-Tacy as a gift in the hope that reading the first book in the series will lead her to reading the rest of the series. Betsy-Tacy introduces the reader to the two characters and tells how they meet each other. It recounts favorite activities that they do, such as having picnics on the bench by the hill at the end of their street. Betsy and Tacy are five years old in the book, so children who are four or five years and older would enjoy having this book read to them or reading it themselves. I own the thirteen books in this series and have read and reread them several times (I am now in my sixties.) Recently, I even took a trip to Mankato, Minnesota, the real name of fictional Deep Valley where the books take place. This was a dream come true for me to actually visit Betsy's house and Tacy's house, which have been restored, and to walk around the town and see the corresponding places in the books. I would recommend the whole series of these books. They start when Betsy and Tacy are young girls. There is a book for each year Betsy is in high school as well as when she goes into "the great world" and when she gets married. There are also three other books written about characters Betsy knows in Deep Valley. The books would probably appeal more to girls. They take place in a wonderful time period--the early 1900's. I feel all the books are fun to read and have worthwhile lessons that can apply to the present time period. They tell about the family-oriented activities and real-life happenings of Betsy, who is the fictional Maud Hart Lovelace, the author of the books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So cute and fun. I still have to finish the third book three but book one and two were great aswell. I recomend this book to any little girl from age seven to ten. Gotta go but I hope this helps!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just love this book so much. It was normally intended for ages 10 and under, but I am well over the age of 10 and I still love it! It's a great book about friendship and I think anyone who reads it will love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard about this book and got it at the library, and when I read it, I vecame addicted to the series. The books where betsy and tacy are older, its sort of more for kids 13+ necause they tend to be a bit boring for ten year olds.
BookBrook on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Oh I have read these books since I was the age of Betsy in the first book. I've read through all 10 books and I still smile when I think of little Betsy and how she grew up. You will fall in love with these books. I recommend reading them.
Rabbitlover on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is one of the best books I ever read!!!
krissa on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This cute little book was a perfect first book for the read-a-thon (not sure I could have handled much else at 6:00 AM). It is a light old-fashioned book filled with adventure and imagination. I think it would be fun to read with a little girl. The individual chapters are like a story in the story. It lends itself well to being put down and picked back up, or read straight through. I am happy I picked the first in the series to read, as it was interesting to see how the author chose to launch it. Even as an adult I can see why it was so popular then and now.
drebbles on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Betsy-Tacy is the first book in the delightful series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Five-year-old Betsy longs for a best friend and finds one when Tacy moves in across the street. Together they have many adventures, including going on picnics, selling sand, playing with paper dolls, going "calling" on neighbors, climbing The Big Hill, and going to school for the first time. The Betsy-Tacy books were partially autobiographical and Lovelace perfectly captures the innocence and magic of childhood. Betsy's imaginative stories, such as riding a feather, are delightful. Even though they are children, Betsy and Tacy's lives are, as in real life, not always happy. The death of Tacy's baby sister, left tears in my eyes yet joy at the innocence of youth as Betsy and Tacy leave an Easter Egg in a tree with the belief that a bird will carry it up to Heaven and give it to Tacy's sister. I loved these books as a child and I'm happy to say I still love them as an adult. This is a great book for young and old.
dolcejen on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved reading this adorable little girl's novel. If I ever have a daughter I will definitely want to read the Betsy-Tacy books to her. Maud Hart Lovelace creates a charming world of happiness, love, and beauty as she describes the lives of Betsy and Tacy, two little girls growing up as friends in turn-of-the century Minnesota. Although this book is filled with sweetness, it does bring in the hard issues of life in a gentle, understanding manner. I loved the Lois Lenski illustrations!
cbl_tn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Almost-five-year-old Betsy Ray is thrilled when a family with a girl just her age moves in across the street. After Betsy's mother invites Tacy Kelly to Betsy's fifth birthday party, the girls become fast friends. They go on picnics, go to school together, play paper dolls, play house in an old piano box in Betsy's back yard, climb trees, play dress-up, and take imaginary trips to exotic Milwaukee. When Tacy's baby sister dies, Betsy knows exactly what to do and say to comfort her friend. Likewise, when a new sister replaces Betsy as the baby in the family, Tacy knows just what to say to help Betsy feel better about the new arrival. The girls pass a large chocolate-brown house with a tower and beautiful stained glass windows on their way to school. The house holds a pleasant surprise for them!I'm sorry I missed out on this book in my childhood, but I'm glad I've discovered it now. The characters seem real - probably because they're based on the author's own family and childhood friends and neighbors. Girls who enjoy the American Girl series will probably like the Betsy-Tacy books with a late 19th/early 20th century setting in small town Minnesota (a fictionalized version of Mankato). Highly recommended!
callmecayce on LibraryThing 9 months ago
My best friend recommended these books and they are, well, disgustingly adorable. I like the characters and the stories, even though they aren't a flowing story, the work well together.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Picked up this classic since it made Betsy's Top 100 Chapter Books. It's a cute story and would be perfect for young kids who are reading above their grade level.
smpenni on LibraryThing 11 months ago
In this heartwarming book readers will immediately warm up to Betsy and her new friend Tacy, who has just moved in across the street. These two girls, age 5, are instant best friends and share many adventures and good times.
lunagirl on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I thought it was really good, because Betsy and Tacy were really good friends and they reminded me of my best friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
70 pages, cost $1.99, first in a series. This is the first book in a series. It was published in 1940, but the style of clothing and other period pieces set the timeline around 1890 to 1900. The story is about four year old growing up together, as friends. I enjoyedthe book, even though it seems to be for 7 year olds on up. It is a very fast read, with no adult topics, although the baby sister of one of the girls dies. The death is told through the the eyes of her than five year old sister. A nice, clean, cozy read. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read all the Betsy-Tacy books multiple times when I was growing up in the 1950s and then bought them for my daughter in the 1980s who loved them as much as I did. My granddaughter now has the first two books of her own. Watching Betsy grow up was something I could easily relate to as a young girl from a small town in Indiana. One of the things I enjoyed most was the remarkable independence of Betsy who eventually traveled unaccompanied to Europe shortly before the beginning of World War I. This was not something I had expected from a middle class Midwestern single female of that time. Overall, the books are timeless in their appeal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books of all time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series! My favorite book is Betsy's wedding when she marrys Joe. My only question is did she ever have kids?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Betsy-Tacy is very of its time (the early 1900s) as much as it is a timeless story of friendship and childhood. I too love this series as rabidly as anyone who has posted before me. It was a part of my growing up, but upon re-reading recently the whole series really held up. I stll wanted to be Betsy and have Tacy as my best friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a realy cute story of 2 girls that become best friends, they go on many adventures together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is enchanting let's just say. I started reading it because another book mentioned it (Mother-Daughter Bookclub) and the book sounded interesting. I decided to start reading and they are actually really good. I 've read these books over and over again! I'm surprised I never heard of them. But they're really good. My compliments to the author. I recommend these ooks to people of all ages.
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