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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Deep Valley Girls

The fictional town of Deep Valley, Minnesota, that is. Meet Betsy, Tacy, and Tib, best friends and stars of the Betsy-Tacy books, a series based on author Maud Hart Lovelace's own childhood in turn-of-century Mankato, Minnesota.

These stories were favorites of mine growing up, and last year I had the pleasure of sharing the first book with my goddaughter, Roxy, then six years old, who ended up loving the characters, too. This spring she came to Boston with her mom for our wedding, and during a grownups-only brunch at our house she wisely retired to my office, where we later found her sprawled on the floor reading: she'd located my old copy of "Betsy, Tacy, and Tib," the second book in the series, and was eagerly gobbling it up.

So these dolls were part of her Christmas present this year: that's Betsy with the perky brown braids, Tacy with the long red ringlets, and Tib with the fluffy yellow curls. (So much in books for girls depends on hair, doesn't it?) This illustration from the book, glued to the top of the box where I stored the dolls, shows each girl with her differentiating hair look.

If you're the sort of person who's not ashamed to read children's books, I highly recommend these. The early ones are written simply, but explore surprisingly complex emotions in their gentle way, and later on when the girls reach high school you get the fun of house parties, pompadours, and hearts won and lost on the skating pond (this is Minnesota, after all).

Take it from Roxy and me: it's never too late to have a happy Deep Valley childhood.

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