Winona’s Pony Cart

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by Maud Hart Lovelace

Published 1953

Those who have followed me for a while know that I fell in love with the Betsy-Tacy books when I read them this spring.  Happy, sweet tales about Betsy and her friends, these books are just a delight.  Lovelace wrote three other books that take place in Deep Valley, the town where Betsy and her family live throughout the majority of the series.  Like Carney’s House Partythis book fits into the Betsy timeline, even though Betsy isn’t the main character (although she does appear peripherally).

While I enjoyed this book, and Winona’s adventures, I wasn’t as big of a fan about this book as I was about the others.  I think the main reason was that I felt like Winona was a bit spoiled, and that her spoiledness (new word!) was confirmed by her parents’ actions throughout the story.  While, as always, Lovelace works in some very good lessons about acceptance and kindness, this wasn’t my favorite of her works.  Still, a solid 3/5, and if you’re reading the series (WHICH YOU SHOULD), I would definitely include this one.

Carney’s House Party

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by Maud Hart Lovelace

Published 1949

Besides the Betsy-Tacy books, Lovelace published three other stories that took place in Deep Valley, Minnesota.  Carney’s House Party, time-line wise, takes place in the four-year gap between Betsy and Joe and Betsy and the Great World.  And actually, it would have been nice to read this book in its place, as it helps fill a bit of the gap there.

As always with Lovelace’s works, I really enjoyed this story, which follows a summer in Carney’s life, between her sophomore and junior years of college.  Home for the season, several of Carney’s friends come to stay, leading to a summer full of fun and frolics, with a bit of romance thrown in.

While the story is happy and it’s great fun to see old friends again, the story’s beginning and end take place at Carney’s college.  These chapters seem a bit out of place, since the author takes a decent amount of time to describe the college and its main buildings and people Carney knows there–people and places that are completely irrelevant to the rest of the story.

This book doesn’t flow quite as naturally as the Betsy books, but this is understandable as Betsy is based on Lovelace herself, while Carney’s story is that of a real-life friend of Lovelace’s…  perhaps it was a bit more awkward to write about the thoughts and feelings of someone else who is a real someone else!

Still, overall another delightful book, and one that I would definitely recommend reading in that gap after Betsy and Joe.

Betsy-Tacy

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by Maud Hart Lovelace

Published 1940

(this edition illustrated by Lois Lenski)

So the Betsy-Tacy books have been floating around my library my entire life.  I know that they were on Mom’s bookshelves growing up, but when I asked her the other day, she said that she had never read them; she just collected them at booksales thinking that they looked like nice books.  I had had much the same attitude, but finally decided to add them to the list of series to-be-read (for serious).  And I am so very, very glad that I did.  These books are delightful!

I am not even sure that I can describe them.  They are set at the turn of the century, and focus on the adventures of three little girls (this first book only involves Betsy and Tacy; Tib moves into the neighborhood in the next book).  These are the most stress-free books you could ever want to read.  I keep waiting for something bad to happen, and nothing ever does!  And yet they still manage to be quite readable, even without any kind of villain.

In this first book, Betsy lives with her parents and her older sister, Julia.  A new family moves in across the street, and they have lots of children, including a girl just Betsy’s age.  After a rocky start, the girls become firm friends.  Much of the book is not so much actual adventures as it is the stories that Betsy tells of their imaginary adventures, which are often quite imaginative indeed!

In Betsy-Tacy, the girls are quite little, but they grow throughout the series.  I have read the first three books now, but the series concludes with Betsy’s Wedding, so apparently they still have quite a lot of growing to do!

Lois Lenski’s illustrations are perfect as well.  I love her work.

I cannot express the true extent of just the innocence and joy in these  books.  They are precious and delightful and full of gentle lessons about love, friendship, and respect.  I am only sorry that I didn’t read them earlier.

5/5.