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4.5/5 (31 ratings)
132 pages
1 hour
May 17, 2011


Best Friends Forever

There are lots of children on Hill Street, but no little girls Betsy's age. So when a new family moves into the house across the street, Betsy hopes they will have a little girl she can play with. Sure enough, they do—a little girl named Tacy. And from the moment they meet at Betsy's fifth birthday party, Betsy and Tacy becoms such good friends that everyone starts to think of them as one person—Betsy-Tacy.

Betsy and Tacy have lots of fun together. They make a playhouse from a piano box, have a sand store, and dress up and go calling. And one day, they come home to a wonderful surprise—a new friend named Tib.

Ever since their first publication in the 1940's, the Betsy-Tacy stories have been loved by each generation of young readers.

May 17, 2011

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.

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Betsy-Tacy - Maud Hart Lovelace



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 was very 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 stood still, winking back tears, a mittened finger in her mouth. At last she turned and trudged slowly back through the snowy dark to her house.

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What people think about Betsy-Tacy

31 ratings / 27 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    The Little BookwormThis was my first Besty-Tacy experience. I never read them as a child though my sister loved them. They are very sweet, old-fashioned stories, full of childhood delicies and innocence. The reader, Sutton Foster, did a great job conveying the wonder that 5 years must feel at the big and small thing in life. Betsy is a lively little girl with a great imagination while Tacy is a shy child who follows along with Betsy. But they compliment each other very well and are very loyal to each other. I really enjoyed this little book and I think I will continue with the series.
  • (5/5)
    Re-read of a beloved favorite!
  • (5/5)
    A simpler time and place. When you are 5 the difference between what you pretend and what is real is not clear. So it makes sense that Betsy's story are real to Betsy and Tacy.I was surprised to find this book also had something as serious a the death of a baby in it.I loved how Tacy helps Betsy deal with her feeling displaced by her new little sister.
  • (5/5)
    I thought it was really good, because Betsy and Tacy were really good friends and they reminded me of my best friend.
  • (5/5)
    The touchstone book of my life. I was first introduced to this series by our school librarian when I was in the third or fourth grade. These books are set at the turn of the century but the subject matter is as relevant today as it was back then. There is a timelessness to these books and if you can sell them to your students, they are in for the treat of a lifetime.
  • (4/5)
    Betsy-Tacy is a charming little book about growing up in a small town in the late 1890s. We meet Betsy, who is five and loves to make up stories and songs, and her best friend, Tacy, who is the shy half of the friendship. The innocence of the time is nostalgic and refreshing, and I felt a desire to experience it first-hand as I read.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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!
  • (5/5)
    Very nostalgic about Betsy-Tacy. These books had a huge impact on me as a kid--I read them all (I don't know if the whole series is even in print anymore) and still love them. They may be too old-fashioned for today's little girls--but not for me.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    I suspect I'm not the target market (currently 51, male) but I do read and love children's books--and I'm not simply re-reading favourites from my childhood, but also seeking out new stories, or old stories that I've missed. I had the great pleasure of reading The Wind in the Willows for the first time a few years ago. Now I turn to Betsy-Tacy, and while I can certainly see the appeal, it's no The Wind in the Willows.

    What makes it so appealing to others is likely the very thing that's leaving me unimpressed: it's written in a very plain, simple language, as if a child could have written it. The events are by-and-large of no great import (they play in a box, they sit on a bench, etc.), and when something dramatic happens (a death in the family, for instance) it is of little consequence to our main characters, who are seeing the world through a five year old's eyes.

    I would have preferred an actual memoir, recollections of growing up in a modest household in a small midwest town at the prior turn of the century. This was pleasant--it's the book equivalent of pudding--but not the kind of pudding one might rave to their friends about, and go to the restaurant just to order it. My tastes are more toward Edward Eager, for a charming portrayal of youth in earlier times (and the fact that his kids tend to stumble across magic devices and have more interesting adventures than standing on a porch or attending a party doesn't hurt!)
  • (4/5)
    I'm certain I would have loved this book as a younger reader. I really don't remember reading it although some of the plot elements seemed vaguely familiar to me. I'm certain not all of those would have been mentioned in reviews I read here, so I must have read it way back in the day. It's a delightful story about two girls who become best friends, share dreams, and help one another through difficult situations for young girls. I listened to the audio book which was wonderfully done with the exception of the annoying music at the beginning and end.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    After many, many, many tries, I finally convinced my kids that listening to a chapter book over a series of nights was actually fun. I had never read this series before, but it was recommended as a good, gentle read, and it is. There is one sad part, but nothing scary or alarming, just a nice, everyday tale of two five-year-olds navigating a friendship and their town. If your kid likes explosions and superheroes, this might be too gentle, but it was perfect for my sensitive kindergartner and her preschool brother.
  • (4/5)
    Oh gosh. It is just as adorable as so many of you have said. As I was reading it, and enjoying the charm of the Lois Lenski illustrations, I kept having the sense I had read it as a child. I think the thing is that I read some of the series when I was a child, but probably not this first one. In any case, ah, such an idyll. Recommended if you're feeling sad or mad and in need of a hug and a piece of cake.
  • (5/5)
    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!
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    The first of the Betsy-Tacy books, what I first heard about (like many of my generation, I'm guessing) when Kathleen Kelly recommended them to Joe Fox's aunt in You've Got Mail. A year or so ago I found a boxed set of the first four on the Friends of the Library shelf at the library for next to nothing, and I'm just now dipping in. This was too childish to be fully engaging to an adult first-time reader, but I definitely see the appeal as a chapter book for elementary school younguns. Will likely keep on through the rest of them, especially as I am interested to see how the children, and consequently the books, grow older with each installment. I think there are ten of these all together and by the end Betsy at least is married, so I suspect they may become more interesting to me as I go along.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. As a child, I remember not caring for it, even though I grew up in Minnesota. I may have already been too advanced as a reader whereas if I had happened across it a couple of years earlier, I might have been entranced. As an adult, I find it a sweet story of two young girls having mild, realistic adventures and already, at the age of five, facing life's difficult times as well as the fun times. It is easy to see one's own childhood in their games and friendship and look back on it with nostalgia. Now I want to read more of the books.
  • (4/5)
    "Unexpectedly delightful" is a phrase that keeps popping into my head, as I sit here considering how best to describe Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy, the first in a long series of books about two (eventually three) young girls growing up in Minnesota in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Begun at an unfortunate time, when a dreadful head cold, and a feeling of being out of charity with the world made the author's somewhat expository style rather irksome for me, the story won me over by degrees, gently unfolding its tale of two young girls who face the joys and sorrows of being five-year-olds together.When a new family move into the house across the street, Betsy Ray hopes that they will have a girl her age, and after an initial misunderstanding, she finds a best friend in Tacy (Anastacia) Kelly. The two are soon inseparable: they climb the Hill together, picnic together, go to school together, and play with paper dolls together. Their imaginary games, often fueled by Betsy's penchant for storytelling, are so well depicted, that the reader senses Lovelace's fond enjoyment, as well as her understanding of the centrality of such play in the life of the child.But life, even for five-year-olds, is not all sweetness and light, and sorrow does touch the lives of Betsy-Tacy, just as change - inevitable and painful - makes itself felt. The death of Baby Bee, Tacy's infant sister, is handled by Lovelace with pitch-perfect sensitivity. The mystery and wonder of a young child's first encounter with death is effortlessly joined to the sorrow of loss. I found the scene on the early morning hillside, where Betsy and Tacy discuss Bee's death, deeply moving.Lovelace's sensitivity to the feelings of the child, how the world appears to her, is demonstrated time and again throughout Betsy-Tacy. She understands that death is something terrible and yet matter-of-fact - in the way that so many things are terrible and matter-of-fact to the child who must experience them for the first time. Her depiction of Betsy's initial sorrow, at the birth of her younger sister Margaret, is a realistic portrayal of a child's natural ambiguity at having "her" place in the family usurped.First published in 1940, and depicting an earlier time, Betsy-Tacy nevertheless has much to offer the contemporary reader, and seems as relevant in its depiction of young girls, as when it was first written. I find myself wishing that I had discovered these books as a child, but as one can only go forward, I'll content myself with having discovered them now. Thank you, Constance, Wendy, Melody, Lisa and Ginny!
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    An older series that I have never read. Pretty cute and pretty tame.
  • (5/5)
    Although Betsy-Tacy is considered a classic by most, I was not familiar with it. Author Meg Cabot recommended it on her website years ago, so I became interested. Never got around to reading it, until it made the 100 spot on NPR's best YA novels (although this book would be considered Children's...much like the first Harry Potter book I'm guessing?)

    So, having finally read it, I gotta say it's a very sweet and charming book. To me, it captures the magic and innocence of childhood perfectly. It's simply about a little girl and her day-to-day life: meeting her best friend, going to school for the first time, playing pretend, dealing with death, and sibling rivalry. Based on this one, I'm planning to continue the series. Overall, I'd recommend it to fans of Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of the best books I ever read!!!
  • (5/5)
    This book was adorable. I first heard of it when I read the Mother-Daughter Book Club series, as it was mentioned in Home For The Holidays.

    This book follows two five year old girls named Betsy Ray and Tacy Kelly. It was interesting to read a book about 5 year olds.

    I loved it. It was a quick read and I'll have to continue the series soon!
  • (5/5)
    I've listened to this wonderful audio book twice in the last two days. I've read the actual book countless times, so often that I know it almost by heart. Lovelace was an amazing writer, and Sutton Foster does a splendid job with the narration.

    The little girls are so very real, and the evocation of place and time both nostalgic and true. My favorite part changes- this time through it was George telling Betsy and Tacy that two nickels was not quite enough to buy a house.

    Highly recommended.