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Understood Betsy Paperback – December 1, 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Avyx (December 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887840133
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887840132
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book as a child and thought it "interesting" but as a parent it was instructive in the balance between smothering love and affectionless care. Somewhere in the middle is born the idea to my 7 year old daughter that perhaps mom CAN do too much for me... and perhaps there is a feeling of grownup accomplishment that is its own reward when I'm expected to do things myself.
So this book was both entertaining (hard to put down!) and instructive (you don't really want to BE that smothering aunt... nor do you want to be that kid who has to endure one)... but it's a bigger story than even that. For there is generosity of spirit and not condemnation that meets each person where they are.

Truly a beautiful book! Definitely recommend!
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Format: Paperback
One of the all time great books from my childhood. I always felt misunderstood and bought this at a Scholastic Book Fair one year. The characters are sharp, the time period is clearly drawn (it was current then, so sometimes author's take things for granted -- this book is forever). Betsy is a real little orphan girl loved too anxiously by two elderly aunts. In a crisis she's sent to other relatives, but then they have a crisis and she ends up on the New England farm of still more relatives. There she has chores, learns she can do things on her own, make wise decisions, play with dogs and young calves, care about others and doesn't need to take credit for being 'good'. If an upper elementary, lower middle school child reads only one book this is one I'd recommend.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the great American novels - it just happens to be for children as well as for adults. Its poignancy, sweetness and kindness are remarkable. And it rings true today - after more than 100 years. It is a true novel of the heart.
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Format: Paperback
Understood Betsy was one of the books I enjoyed reading when I was young. I liked Betsy well enough, but not quite as much as Anne of Green Gables or My Friend Flicka, but the book was one I would reread every few years. I revisited Understood Betsy last year, as I previously had Heidi and found I had forgotten the ending or confused the ending with some other book(s). I am so enjoying rereading some of my favorite books I read time and again growing up. New perceptions and ideas are discovered about these books from the lens of adulthood.

Dorothy Canfield wrote this children's classic and the book was first published in 1916. After reading about Ms. Canfield, I discovered she was a contemporary of Maria Montessori and with this current reading, I was attuned to her promotion of Ms. Montessori's ideas. Really, this book seems to be written to promote self-reliance, open-mindednes, hard work to reach goals, charity to those with less, and not prejudging others based on hearsay. Well, that's a few of the values promoted in Understood Betsy.

Elizabeth Ann was orphaned young and lived with her aunt and great aunt in a city in the northeast. The younger aunt, Aunt Frances, watched and worried over the child so much that Elizabeth Ann was scared of her own shadow. Aunt Frances loved her charge very much, but she herself was high strung and skittish. She was especially overprotective of her niece.

Circumstances occurred that would force Aunt Frances to send the girl to live with her country cousins, the Putneys. These people were so totally different in their treatment of Elizabeth Ann, whom they immediately started calling Betsy, that Betsy could not but help but become less afraid, more self-reliant, and healthier all around.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I cannot belive I had never heard of this book, it is a classic! Reminded me of my all time favorite book (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) as it too was from a young girl's perspective and set in the early part of last century. Well crafted, funny, poignant and engaging. One of those books that stay with you, months (and maybe years) after you read it and one that you will re-read over time. Excellent piece of literature! I highly recommend this to any discerning reader looking for a well-crafted story.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am planning to use this text for Ambleside Online's Year 2 home schooling curriculum. Please be aware that this version, which has "Sonlight Curriculum" printed on the back cover, has text that differs from the original version. (I compared the text in this book to the online version on Project Gutenberg, which was originally published in 1917.) So this version is edited.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Remembering I had this book as a child, I ordered it again and was delighted by it! Author Dorothy Canfield Fisher had met Maria Montessori in person, and was very impressed by her teaching philosophy. Clearly it was a match with her own outlook. Because orphan Betsy, coddled and over-protected by the first set of well-meaning relatives, thrives when sent to her "Putney cousins", sturdy farm folk in Vermont.

The book is well-written enough for an adult to enjoy. There's not an ounce of sentimentality in it. A tiny kitten, clasped ecstatically by Betsy, regards the young girl with "bored, speculative eyes". At the farm in Putney Vermont, Betsy learns how to work hard, relate with integrity, not self-serving charity. Most importantly, she learns to see the world with acuity and to think for herself. Any child would identify with Betsy gaining her independence. And any mother struggling to not become a "helicopter mom" will find heartening support here.
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