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Anyone who fondly remembers how the fresh air of the moors puts a blush in the cheeks of sallow young Mary in The Secret Garden will love Dorothy Canfield Fisher's Understood Betsy just as much. First published in 1916, this engaging classic tells the tale of a thin, pale 9-year-old orphan named Elizabeth Ann who is whisked away from her city home and relocated to a Vermont farm where her cousins, the "dreaded Putneys," live. The Putneys are not as bad as her doting, high-strung Aunt Frances warns, however, and Elizabeth, who had been nurtured by her aunt like an overwatered sapling--positively blooms under their breezy, earthy care.
Elizabeth Ann's first victories are small ones--taking the reins from Uncle Harry, doing her own hair, making her own breakfast--but children will revel in the awakening independence and growing self-confidence of a girl who learns to think for herself... and even laugh. Along the way, "citified" readers of all ages will get a glimpse into the lives of people who are truly connected to the world around them--making butter ("We always bought ours," says Elizabeth Ann), experiencing the "rapt wonder that people in the past were really people," and understanding the difference between failing in school and failing at life. Fisher is a wise, personable storyteller, steeped in the Montessori principles of learning for its own sake, the value of process, and the importance of "indirect support" in child rearing. She also captures the tempestuous emotional life of a child as few authors can, crafting a story that children will find deeply satisfying. And in the end, readers will have grown as fond of the happier, stronger "Betsy" as the gentle, unassuming Putneys have.
Loving care was dolloped on this 1999 reissue of an old favorite--with sweet new pencil illustrations by Kimberly Bulcken Root, and an introduction and afterword by Eden Ross Lipson that offer a historical context for the book and its author. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson
Fisher's beloved novel, first published in 1917, makes a smooth transition to audio in the latest from Chinaberry. Orphaned as a baby, nine-year-old Elizabeth Ann is taken in by her kindhearted great-aunt Harriet and cousin Frances, who aim to raise her in a loving, proper and cultured home in the early 1900s. Pale, thin, nervous Elizabeth Ann experiences a new kind of upheaval when Aunt Harriet becomes seriously ill. The situation requires that Elizabeth Ann be sent from her city home to "those horrid Putney cousins" (in Aunt Harriet's opinion) who live on a farm in Vermont. The change in scenery and attitude does Elizabeth Ann a world of good; in the country air where she is expected to do chores and where she can romp around and play with the animals, Elizabeth Ann becomes Betsy, a robust and happy girl. Her transformation is the heart of what remains a warm family tale, despite a few dated references. Reynolds gives a solid if sometimes precious-sounding performance, adopting a careful, pleasant storytelling tempo. Ages 6-11. (June)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book is purely delightful. I'm reading it to my 8-year old daughter and there have been many times when I had to stop reading because I was laughing so hard! Read morePublished on April 11 2007 by CanadianMother
I have never forgotten this book! I am 37 and I believe this to be my very first favorite book. Over the years I have thought of this book and its simple charm. Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2004
My mother bought this book for me since I was a very shy and reserved child. She is a teacher and wanted to help me overcome the shyness. Read morePublished on April 17 2003 by E. Frank
I give this book as gifts to adult friends that I really care about -they might never find it on their own since Understood Betsy is disguised as a children's book. Read morePublished on March 20 2003
"Understood Betsy" presents a picture of the wise and gentle relationships within a normal family during the second decade of the 20th century. Read morePublished on Nov. 29 2002 by Character Sketches
some books are timeless. while the slang is a little dated,you can explain the meaning while you are reading this, this is as sweet as the boxcar children but written when your... Read morePublished on April 30 2002
I like to read old stories about young girls and this one was perfect. Betsy changed from a shy city girl to a strong country gal. Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2001 by An 11-year old reader
This delightful tale marks Dorothy Canfield Fisher as one of those rare authors able to hold the sympathy and attention of adults and children alike. (C.S. Lewis was another. Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2001 by Una cliente