Tuesday, February 19, 2008
B is for Betsy
Haywood, Carolyn. 1939. B is for Betsy.
I'll keep this one short and sweet. I read this book because I've been going way way back this month. (Who knows why???) Anyway, as far as books from the thirties go, this one is charming enough. The heroine is, of course, named Betsy. And the plot is episodic. Each chapter is a new adventure. Most of them center around life at home and life at school. It's not that the book is bad, it's just a bit dated. You can love it, I hope, and still admit that it's dated. (If you grew up with this book and loved it and want to share it with your kids, I don't want to offend you by saying it's "dated." But as an adult reader I've got to be honest and say that I'm not so sure that today's young readers are going to be as charmed with it as their grandmothers may have been. You may pull it off if you do it as a read aloud, but I don't know that a kid would pick this one up on their own and stick with it. Not without some motivation or guidance or exuberance from a trusted adult.)
Another point--that may be neither here nor there. But I think *sometimes* your response to a book is dependent on when you read it. Some books that I only "like" now, I probably would have loved as a kid. Some books I loved as a kid, if I was reading them for the first time as an adult, would only merit a "like" as an adult reader. It's just something to consider.
First sentence: "Betsy lay in her little white bed. She had been awake a long time. Outside her window the birds were calling "Good Morning" to each other, but Betsy did not hear them. All summer long she had jumped out of bed as soon as her eyes were open. She had always run to the window and thrown sunflower seeds out to the birds for their breakfast. But this morning Betsy was so busy feeling unhappy that she forgot all about the birds. Betsy was unhappy because today was the first day of school. She had never been to school and she was sure she would not like it."