Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Understood Betsy (1916)

Understood Betsy. Dorothy Canfield Fisher. 1916. 176 pages.

Understood Betsy is a quick and lovely read. Elizabeth Ann has always lived with Aunt Frances, but, when a new situation develops which makes this impossible, Betsy goes to Vermont to stay with her other relatives: Aunt Abigail, Uncle Henry, Cousin Ann. At first, Betsy is timid and unsure. She has had great practice at feeling that way--Aunt Frances almost always feels that way too. That is why they can understand one another so very perfectly. In her new home, Betsy learns that she can do almost anything. In her new home, she learns she has some gumption after all! She can be resourceful, brave, strong, determined. She's a whole new person in just a few weeks! If her new family had a motto, it would probably be you learn to do by doing.

The novel is about Betsy's first experiences in the world: getting a cat, watching that cat have kittens, making a new friend, learning to take care of herself, learning to be responsible, learning to help others and think of others, etc. Readers also learn a little history alongside Betsy.

Favorite quotes:
She knew all about reading lessons and she hated them, although she loved to read. But reading lessons...! You sat with your book open at some reading that you could do with your eyes shut, it was so easy, and you waited and waited and waited while your classmates slowly stumbled along, reading aloud a sentence or two apiece, until your turn came to stand up and read your sentence or two, which by that time sounded just like nonsense because you'd read it over and over so many times to yourself before your chance came. And often you didn't even have a chance to do that, because the teacher didn't have time to get around to you at all, and you closed your book and put it back in your desk without having opened your mouth. Reading was one thing Elizabeth Ann had learned to do very well indeed, but she had learned it all by herself at home from much reading to herself.
A dim notion was growing up in her mind that the fact that she had never done a thing was no proof that she couldn't.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


hopeinbrazil 4:38 AM  

This was one of our family favorites when I used to do read-alouds. (The boys are all grown up now.)

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