Friday, May 29, 2009
The New Betsy-Tacy Covers
If you're a regular reader of this blog, it will be apparent to you from my frequent references to them that I am a devoted fan of Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books. I read and reread them countless times as a child and, along with only a handful of other childhood favourites, I have carried them with me into my adult life, continuing to reread them at regular intervals. The series begins with Betsy's fifth birthday in Minnesota circa 1897 and, in ten volumes, documents her childhood and high school years, her early struggles to establish herself as a writer, her solo trip into the Great World (Germany, Italy, France, and England), and finally her wedding and the early years of her married life. The books become steadily more sophisticated in style and content as Betsy matures, thereby continuing to appeal to young readers as they grow up alongside Betsy and her friends.
I love the whole series, but I am particularly partial to the high school books and beyond. So I am extremely happy that these books, which have fallen out of print in recent years, are to be reissued by HarperCollins this fall. And I was positively giddy to learn today, upon following a link to a preview of the new covers at the Betsy-Tacy Society website, that the new editions will feature some of the same Vera Neville artwork that appeared on the covers of the original hardback editions that I borrowed from the library as a child. There have been at least two reissues of the entire series in the intervening years—in the mid-1990s and again in 2000—and while on both occasions I was very pleased that the books were available once again, the less said about their cover art the better. I understand the quest for a modern look to appeal to contemporary readers. But I've always thought that the Vera Neville illustrations have an enduring charm which would appeal to contemporary girls as well as to nostalgic adult readers like me. And, it seems that this time around someone at HarperCollins agrees with me! I love the new covers (reproduced above). Betsy and the Great World is my very favourite of the ten books in the series, and I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see that Vera Neville drawing of a windblown Betsy on the deck of the S.S. Columbic en route to Europe back on the cover of a book. (For an earlier post of mine about Betsy and the Great World, headed by a reproduction of the original cover, click here.)
If you take a close look at the new covers above, you will note that each of the three volumes contains two novels, which seems to me a clever way to get readers hooked on the series. And each volume includes a foreword penned by a famous fan of the Betsy-Tacy books: Laura Lippman, Meg Cabot, and Anna Quindlen respectively. (I'm in good company in my fandom, am I not?)
I hope that the new covers will catch the eyes of many new readers when the books appear on bookstore shelves this fall. If you're already a fan of the series, this will be an excellent opportunity to revisit it. And if you haven't yet encountered it, do give the books a try. Of course, you may forget all about them between now and their release date. But, fear not, I will remind you again closer to the time!