I've never read anything by Maude Hart Lovelace (nor really heard of her until my life as a librarian began) so I was pleased with an excuse to read more new-to-me children's books in conjunction with the Reading to Know bookclub. I read both Betsy-Tacy and Betsy, Tacy and Tib, the first two of what I believe I assume correctly is Lovelace's most popular set of books.
After seeing how many five-star reviews Goodreads, Amazon and other bloggers give to these books, I wondered if I was missing something. I feel sometimes like I am the meanest book-reviewer around, never liking any books, especially childrens', and complaining about everything I read. (Perhaps I should revisit some of my own past favorites just to show that isn't the case - to myself, if no one else.) I didn't care for these books. It's not that I couldn't stand them, I just didn't find them to my liking. They are very...'cute.' This is how I summarized Betsy, Tacy and Tib to my husband:
"It's about three little girls who decide to go on picnics, and their mothers always say, 'why, isn't it a good thing I just made this apple cake then! Be good and enjoy yourselves and of course your sister will do the dishes.'"
I thought of the Ramona books (which I recently read for the first time - and loved!) and also of Ivy and Bean. (Linked to my review.) However, the difference between Betsy-Tacy and those others is hard to pinpoint. Is it the writing style? Is it the characters? Perhaps I am too hard on their imaginations - I was a little bored with the adventures they came up with. I wasn't much like these girls when I was their age - except I did make concoctions when allowed, mixing everything in the kitchen up into one big, intriguing, stinky mess. I was smart enough not to taste them, though. And I did have thick brown braids.
I will say, in their favor, that I love Lois Lenski's illustrations. And perhaps Lovelace is one of those authors that needs to be read as a child. As an adult, I haven't found a new favorite.