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!

13 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Oooh, how exciting! I love those covers too. I remember looking at those illustrations and being fascinated by the clothing as a child, and I'm so glad to have such a good chance to read the books again!

Suko said...

These look rather enticing! Because of their charming covers and your words, I'll keep a lookout for them this autumn.

Kailana said...

These sound really interesting. I have never heard of them before, so I will have to keep my eyes open for them!

liliannattel said...

Great covers! I grew up on Edwardian children's books (I suspect my school library was mainly made up of donations), so I'm surprised I missed this series. It reminds me of Daddy Longlegs (a favourite) and the L.M. Montgomery series (also a childhood favourite). I am not too old to check these out! Thanks!

Carrie K. said...

Love, love, loved Betsy-Tacy when I was growing up! I have to buy these for my daughter - thanks for the reminder.

Melanie said...

I agree - what an inspired idea to reissue them with the original artwork and with famous fans writing forewords. I really want this new reissue now, even though I never really read the Betsy-Tacy books as a child.

Book Club Girl said...

Great post Kate, thanks so much! Are any of you going to the Betsy Tacy convention this summer?
www.BetsyTacyConvention.com

I'll be there with my sister and my baby girl!

Danielle said...

I was never introduced to these books as a child. I think I will have to take advantage of the new reprints with the lovely old illustrations, however. You make the books sound charming!

Belle said...

What wonderful news! I grew up on Betsy and Tacy, too. I was always Betsy, of course. A few years back I started buying my own copies of the series (when I was little, I just borrowed and re-borrowed from the library), but I don't have them all yet. I think I will get these new re-releases, just for the covers and to read the forewords. Nice to see we're all in such good company!

Heather said...

I am so embarrassed to admit I have never read The Betsy-Tacy books. I'm so ashamed!

These covers do look lovely. I do love those books that are read over and over in childhood. I read a few into complete disintegration, so the fact that you read these so much in your childhood makes me want to seek them out. Plus, with my own daughter coming of age, I desperately want to find some books that will help her catch the reading bug as well.

Frances Tyrrell said...

How did I never hear of these? L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott were my standbys, and the What Katy Did trilogy. Now I am going on the used-book prowl for Betsy & Tracy.

llegue said...

I LOVE Betsy Tacy! Love them!! And I agree, the older illustrations are the best. I had bought the whole set in college when they were re-published in 1995 to make myself feel better after a long and rough week. Also good are the Deep Valley books about Carney and Emily. It is rare to meet other Betsy Tacy fans at times. I've introduced these books to many a friend. When I put my pictures of Europe in my album, I labeled the album Jenn and the Great World. Betsy Tacy has been such an influence in my life and I am currently reading the first one to my daughter who is 5.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I have been searching for the complete set of the Betsy Tacy books and cannot find anyone that sells the set together. I read these books as a young girl from the library and would love to purchase them altogether. Do you know any book stores etc?
Any help would be appreciated please email.

Thank you,
kingmilleross@yahoo.com