Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Betsy-Tacy books

Going to Camp

Mother Daughter Book CampAs sum­mer begins, it’s pos­si­ble there is no more ubiq­ui­tous expe­ri­ence for Amer­i­can chil­dren than sum­mer camp. Whether it’s a day camp or a sleep­away camp, an art or music camp, a Girl Scout or church camp, there are some things that most camps have in com­mon: the out­doors, get­ting along with oth­er kids and coun­selors, and new expe­ri­ences.

Or, as Heather Vogel Fred­er­ick writes in her lat­est Moth­er-Daugh­ter Book Club book, Moth­er-Daugh­ter Book Camp, the mot­to of Camp Love­joy is “Broad­en­ing Hori­zons for Over a Cen­tu­ry.” Girls are encour­aged to stretch out­side their com­fort zones.

When the sub­ject of sum­mer camp comes up among my friends, the dis­cus­sion turns to crafts learned (mac­a­roni-adorned some­thing), songs sung, injuries sus­tained, fam­i­ly week­ends, and unfor­get­table coun­selors.

Moth­er-Daugh­ter Book Camp cap­tures this expe­ri­ence with spot-on details, the emo­tions of being away at camp (remem­ber that feel­ing of home­sick­ness? who were these strangers? how would you make it through [how­ev­er long you were slat­ed to be there]? how could you ever leave?), the food, the one most mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence, and those won­der­ful friend­ships.

Mother Daughter Book Club Series

I’m a big fan of this series of books which began with The Moth­er-Daugh­ter Book Club, con­tin­ued with Much Ado about Anne, and con­tin­ued through to the recent, sev­enth book, Moth­er-Daugh­ter Book Camp. We’ve grown to care about these five girls, Emma (the most ded­i­cat­ed read­er and writer), Jess (the farm girl and musi­cian), Bec­ca (first a bul­ly, then a friend, high­ly orga­nized, quil­ter), Megan (fash­ion­ista, blog­ger, whose moth­er is obsessed with green and healthy liv­ing), and Cas­sidy (sports, sports, and great love of fam­i­ly). Their moth­ers are famil­iar, too, because of Book Club meet­ings and trips they’ve tak­en. There are even grand­moth­ers with­in these sto­ries. I love it when all of the gen­er­a­tions are drawn into the sto­ry, don’t you? These are five girls who for the most part didn’t know each oth­er before the book club began — and now they’re for­ev­er friends.

In each part of the series, the book club dis­cuss­es a clas­sic book, from Lit­tle Women to Anne of Green Gables to the Bet­sy-Tacy books to the book fea­tured in Moth­er-Daugh­ter Book Camp, Under­stood Bet­sy by Dorothy Can­field Fish­er. The book club shares Fun Facts about the book and the author and so, of course, read­ers are drawn inevitably to read­ing the fea­tured book — how can curios­i­ty not engen­der this result? And the book club is woven skill­ful­ly into the larg­er sto­ry, which pro­vides plen­ty of laughs, a lot of gasps of sur­prise, and heart­warm­ing tears.

I’ve come to care about these girls, their fam­i­lies, their boyfriends. Each of them is head­ing off to a dif­fer­ent col­lege after being coun­selors at Camp Love­joy. The series is done with book sev­en but I know they’ll stay in touch. Their lives are inter­twined. I’m going to miss know­ing what hap­pens next.

Heather Vogel Fred­er­ick has writ­ten char­ac­ters so vivid that I expect them to walk through my front door, plop down on the couch, and tell me all about their lives. I wish they would.

These books are that good. I high­ly rec­om­mend them for fourth grade read­ers and old­er. The char­ac­ters are in sixth grade when their book club is formed. We watch them grow up, grad­u­ate from high school, and spend a spe­cial sum­mer togeth­er at camp before they head off to the rest of their lives.

I’m grate­ful that their sto­ries are a part of my life.



Pippi LongstockingAt Bookol­o­gy, we believe the adage about “the right book for the right read­er.” Those are not nec­es­sar­i­ly the books that we see in adver­tise­ments, in the blog­gers’ buzz, or on award lists. Only by lis­ten­ing to each oth­er, and espe­cial­ly to kids, talk about books do we find those gems our hearts were look­ing for but didn’t know exist­ed.

When you think about your favorite books, what’s your per­spec­tive? Do you remem­ber the sto­ry first? The char­ac­ters? The cov­er? The illus­tra­tions?

For many of us, it’s the book cov­er. Yes­ter­day, I was look­ing for books about cats. I want­ed to rec­om­mend some clas­sics. I remem­ber a book from the 1960s that had a boy and a cat on the cov­er. Both of them were fac­ing away from me, look­ing at a neigh­bor­hood. I remem­ber that the cov­er is yel­low. Do you know the book I’m talk­ing about? I asked Steve, because he fre­quent­ly talks about this book. When I described the cov­er, he knew right away: It’s Like This, Cat by Emi­ly Cheney Neville. (I’m not pub­lish­ing the cov­er here because I don’t want to give it away. Take a look at the bot­tom of this arti­cle.)

Often it’s the illus­tra­tions. Who can for­get the thick black out­lines of My Friend Rab­bit? Or the clear, bright col­ors of My Heart is Like a Zoo? Or the pen and ink draw­ings of Lois Lens­ki?


Some­times it’s the char­ac­ters. The book with the spi­der and the pig. That one with the adven­tur­ous red-haired girl with pig­tails. That book where the high-school kids share their poet­ry in class. That auto­bi­og­ra­phy of the author grow­ing up in Cuba and the USA. Those char­ac­ters are so mem­o­rable that, once read, we can’t for­get them. (The book cov­ers are post­ed at the end of this arti­cle.)

When we’re meet­ing with the Chap­ter & Verse book club each month, the last half-hour is a time to rec­om­mend books we’ve enjoyed. I always add to my read­ing list. Do you have an inten­tion­al, set-aside time for talk­ing with oth­er adults about the children’s books they’re read­ing and are thrilled to rec­om­mend? I par­tic­u­lar­ly love it when they’re books that aren’t on the buzzers’ radar. I feel as though we’ve shared a secret.

Chapter & Verse Book Club, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin

Chap­ter & Verse Book Club, Red­bery Books, Cable, Wis­con­sin

I also hunt through the state lists. These are books that edu­ca­tors and librar­i­ans are choos­ing because they know they have kid appeal. So often, these are not books that have been on award lists … but they’re passed along, buzzed about among child read­ers, rec­om­mend­ed by the adults in their lives.

State Choice Awards

Not all books need to be new. There are fab­u­lous books hid­ing on the library shelves and in used book­stores. Do a sub­ject search. It’s amaz­ing what you can find by look­ing at a library cat­a­log or doing an online search.

Everyone’s pub­lish­ing book­lists these days. How do you know which ones to fol­low? Do the titles res­onate with you? Do you find your­self eager­ly adding their sug­ges­tions to your TBR pile? Then book­mark those lists! Vis­it them fre­quent­ly or sign up to receive noti­fi­ca­tions when they pub­lish their next list.

The award books and books with stars are one way to find good books but don’t rely sole­ly on those sources. Don’t for­get the wealth of fab­u­lous books that fly under the radar.

Talk to each oth­er. Adult to adult. Child to adult. Child to child. Adult to child. Old or new. Hid­den trea­sure or best­seller. We learn about the best books when we hear rec­om­men­da­tions from anoth­er read­er, anoth­er per­spec­tive.

books described in the article


Fan Fervor for 70-Year-Old Books

Yes­ter­day we attend­ed the Bet­sy-Tacy Con­ven­tion pre­sen­ta­tions at the Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture Research Col­lec­tions at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta, a/k/a the Ker­lan Col­lec­tion. There was SRO in a room that was set up for about 150 peo­ple (best guess). Kath­leen Bax­ter was the host of the soirée, enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly wel­com­ing every­one to this mean­ing­ful set­ting for the treats to fol­low.… more