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Understood Betsy Paperback – May 6, 2013
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“As satisfying in its evocation of an earlier, simpler way of life as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, and psychologically more acute.” ― The New York Times Book Review
“A book that will continue to warm readers well into the next millennium.” ―Riverbank Review
“[A] delightful and heartwarming classic.” ―Children's Literature--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Dorothy Canfield Fisher was a pioneer in children's literature. In addition to writing more than fifty books for children, she was a co-founder of the Book-of-the-Month Club and a key reviewer for The New York Times. While Ms. Fisher lived most of her life in New York City, she retained an enormous affection for the hills of Vermont, where she was raised.
Kimberly Bulcken Root has illustrated over fifteen books for children, most recently, Birdie's Lighthouse. She and her husband, illustrator Barry Root, live with their children in Quarryfield, Pennsylvania.
Eden Ross Lipson is the Children's Book Review Editor of the New York Times Book Review.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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. If she did something in her mind that was outstanding, Betsy was used to Aunt Frances gushing over her. These country people expected her to do certain things and didn't blink twice when she actually did. The first thing she accomplished was taking the reins, literally and figuratively, on the drive home from the train station. I was reminded of Anne Shirley being picked up at the train station as well, and how she talked constantly the whole way to Green Gables. Betsy was not as much of a talker and was more of a doer without her protective aunt watching her every move. After no one coming to wake her up and dress her, for once in her life she got up and got dressed all on her own on her first morning at the Putney house.
Betsy has lots of wonderful experiences living in the country with her aunt, uncle, cousins, and friends and really grows and matures into a wonderful young lady. I don't think this would have happened if she had stayed under the care of her overprotective aunt. The book has many lessons contained in the chapters, and I recommended Understood Betsy for readers of all ages, especially pre-teens and tweeners.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The writing at the beginning of this book is NOT my style, and I had to push through it.Read more