Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Very Mer-Ray Christmas

With the holidays approaching, I will be taking a blogging break, but I will leave you with the lovely descriptions of the Christmas festivities as described in Heaven to Betsy:

Christmas was definitely in the air now, not only in the churches. In school both literary societies were preparing Christmas programs, and teachers were growing indulgent under the influence of the approaching holidays. Anna was involved with Christmas cookies, plum pudding, mince meat, and two kinds of fruit cake. Mrs. Ray had thought one kind enough, but Anna had said firmly that the McCloskeys always had two. (188) 
The Ray house by this time was almost bursting with Christmas. Holly wreaths were up in all the windows. Mr. Ray had brought home candy canes; Washington had a red and green bow on his collar. And everyone had been warned by everyone else not to look in this or that drawer, or this or that closet. (194)
There was the usual Christmas Eve ritual. They decorated the tree. Betsy put on the golden harp from this year's shopping expedition with Tacy. She hung the red ball she had bought last year, the angel from the year before. | The tree stood in the dining room, and its candlelight mingled with the soft light from the fire in the grate as Julia went out to the piano and they all sang, "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem," "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," and "Silent Night." | Then they gathered around the fire with Margaret in the circle of her father's arm, and Betsy read from Dickens' "Christmas Carol," the story of the Cratchits' Christmas Dinner. Margaret recited "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," and Julia read the story of Jesus' birth out of the Book of Luke. Later they turned out the lights to fill one another's stockings which were hung around the fireplace. (197)
Have a blessed holiday season!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tutorial for Making a Betsy-Tacy Activity Book

This year for Christmas, I made my nine-year-old sister a Betsy-Tacy activity book. Since this blog is for all things Betsy-Tacy (and Tib!), I thought it might be fun to share a tutorial of how I made it. I was thinking about linking to a PDF of the book, but I want to protect the copyright of these images. The good news is that you can make your own! As long as you don't sell it or start mass-producing them, I'm pretty sure that it still respects the copyright (correct me if I am wrong).

First, I scanned a bunch of images from the books. They needed a little post-scanning editing work but it was easy enough that even I could do it. I cropped and rotated the images and then used the BW Threshold setting in Photoscape (or you could use Photoshop, or most other photo editing programs. It's a very basic setting) to make sure there was a clear contrast; I didn't want them to be grayscale. (I hope that explanation makes sense. I'm not very computer savvy and I was able to figure it out. But it's easier to show than explain.)

I then arranged the images in a Word document, shrinking the margins to fit them in better. I made the pictures as big as I could without running into the margins. I also made simple cover. I actually opened two windows in Word--one for vertical and one for horizontal, as I wanted both layouts in the book.

Next, print the pages and arrange them in order (I put the pictures from the first book first, etc.). Most of the pictures I used were from the first four books (Lois Lenski's drawings), because I think those would be better for coloring. However, I did include some of Vera Neville's illustrations, because I thought my sister might like coloring some of the dresses and hairstyles in those.

I just noticed recently that the paper here is called the Free Press (the name
of the real Mankato newspaper) instead of The Deep Valley Sun, which it is
known as in all subsequent books.
It would have been fun to add quotes and titles to each page but I decided to
keep it simple.

I divided the two sections with some great activity pages I found on the Betsy-Tacy Society website. They also have a few coloring pages that you can download and print (in case you don't want to scan your own). In my book, I included the word search, the personality quiz, and the crossword puzzle. You can find links to downloads for all of those pages (and more!) here. (There is some really fun stuff on the site: ideas for a Betsy-Tacy book club, games, a page for how to have a birthday like Betsy, make your own journal, etc.)

Kudos to the people who made these. What a great idea!!!
The finished book is 30 pages.
My sister has only read the first four books, but I thought she would enjoy
coloring some of the later illustrations, too.

I used a binding machine to put all of the pages together, but you could just hole punch them and put it in a small three-ring binder, or even a folder. If you would like to bind it but don't have access to a machine, you may wish to check at your office supply store (like Staples or Office Depot) to see if they do binding. Many of them do.

This picture shows the plastic overlay on the cover.
This is the back cover, also with plastic. Under the patterned paper is a piece
of cardboard.

To protect the covers I put a sheet of plastic on both ends. I also placed a piece of cardboard on the back to reinforce it. Over the cardboard I put a sheet of patterned paper to make it look a little prettier (my mom's idea).

Tada! The finished book!

This was a really simple and easy thing to make (although it might sound complicated), and I think my sister will really enjoy it. She loves to color!

While I was making this I couldn't help but think how fun a real published activity book like this would be (with a lot more pages, obviously). I know for the American Girl franchise they have several of this type of activity book (my sister has a few and really enjoys them). There are a lot of possibilities--period games, recipes, and pastimes that young kids could do...but also things like word searches, quizzes, and maybe even stickers, punch outs, etc. I think it would be really fun, and a great way to enrich the reading experience for young fans. Hmm... In the meantime, however, you can make this activity book!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Quotes of Each Book

Anyone who has ever written anything, knows how hard it can be to begin. Within the first chapter of a book the author usually seeks to engage the audience, set the tone for the piece to follow, and introduce the characters and setting. With this in mind, I thought it might be fun to see all of Maud's beginnings to her Betsy-Tacy and Deep Valley books. Which is your favorite? I think I love the opening of Betsy-Tacy most, since that's what started it all.

It was difficult, later, to think of a time when Betsy and Tacy had not been friends.
Betsy-Tacy and Tib: 
Betsy and Tacy and Tib were three little girls who were friends.
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill: 
Betsy, Tacy, and Tib were nine years old, and they were very anxious to be ten.
Winona's Pony Cart:
Winona Root and her pug dog Toodles were sitting on the wall which hemmed in one side of the large Root lawn.
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown: 
Betsy was sitting in the backyard maple, high among spreading branches that were clothed in rich green except at their tips where they wore the first gold of September.
Heaven to Betsy:
Betsy was visiting at the Taggarts' farm. It was Wednesday, and soon the kitchen would swim with warm, delicious odors.
Betsy in Spite of Herself:
"Just a few lines to open the record of my sophomore year. Isn't it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be. […]"
Betsy Was a Junior
Betsy Ray sat in a rowboat which was anchored in Babcock's Bay, two watery miles opposite Murmuring Lake Inn, where the Ray family had been spending the summer.
Betsy and Joe:
At the top of Agency Hill, Betsy Ray turned Old Mag off the road into the shade of an elm.
Emily of Deep Valley:
"It's the last day of high school . . . ever," Annette said. 
    She said it gaily, swinging Emily's hand and pulling her about so that they faced the red brick building with its tall arched windows and doors, its elaborate limestone trimming, it's bulging turrets and the cupola that made an ironical dunce's cap on top of all.
Carney's House Party:
Carney was climbing Sunset Hill. 
    Far below she could hear a group of her classmates, like herself just released from examinations, singing as they strolled beside the brook. 
Betsy and the Great World
"Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone."
Betsy was chanting it under he breath to give her courage, as laden with camera, handbag, umbrella, and Complete Pocket Guide to Europe, she started up the gangplank to the deck of the S.S. Columbic.
Betsy's Wedding:
Almost choked with excitement and joy, Betsy Ray leaned against the railing as the S.S. Richmond sailed serenely into New York City's inner harbor.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Review of *Future in a Handbasket: The Life and Letters Behind Carney's House Party*

    "Myself, I like the world ordinary people live in. I just want the Loco, lots of fishing, poker at low stakes, my sax . . . a home and kids sometime, of course. A girl like you, I think, would like a home and kids, with music just for the frosting on the cake.
    "You'll keep playing the piano. Probably your husband will hound you to play for him every night after supper. But as the kids grow older you'll play less and less. And you won't feel bad about that, for one of the kids will be musical, maybe . . . All your technical skill and talent plus a little from his dad. Say, that would be swell!"
    "Wouldn't it!" They glowed at each other.
    There was a shout from downstairs. "Carney! Sam! Where are you?"
    Carney jumped up and she saw the third floor room had grown quite dim. Beyond the tall windows the western sky was a sheet of flaming color.
    "Heavens!" she cried. "It's time to go home."
    Sam put his hand over hers. He gave it a warm squeeze.
    "There's your future in a handbasket," he said. (Carney's House Party, 128)
After reading Future in a Handbasket, that exchange from Carney's House Party has a whole new meaning.  I recently read and enjoyed Amy Dolnick's book about the real Carney, Marion Willard Everett, and decided to share some of my thoughts on it. If anyone follows me on Goodreads, this is just a slightly altered version of the review I posted there.

Some of Marion’s college letters are a bit gossipy, and not as interesting to me as the rest of the book (but still enjoyable). It seems like it would’ve been really fun to go to Vassar in those days. In that section in particular, I found it hard to keep track of who’s who (some people mentioned had the same name, and then there are the fictional names based on some it gets confusing). The footnotes were very helpful. If anything, I wished for more of them (and it might be nice if they were at the bottom of each page and not at the end of the chapters). It also struck me while reading this how people really knew how to write good letters then. I'm afraid that is something that is becoming extinct. But maybe we just write good e-mails instead?

I greatly enjoyed reading the parts about how Marion and Bill raised their children, and their life as a family. I also found the war letters to be extremely interesting. **SPOILER: Ted’s death really caught me off guard; I was not expecting that at all.  His letters were very touching and introspective. **END OF SPOILER** Tears were shed more than once during the reading of this book. I’m still confused about who is Willy/Bill and who is Ted/Ed in the photos. It seems like they are labeled inconsistently. Why didn’t we get to read any of Will’s wartime letters?

The letters from Maud Hart Lovelace to Marnie are absolutely delightful, and it makes me admire Lovelace even more. An example of an interesting quote from one of Maud's letters:
“I like to work a little religion into these books. You'll notice that I usually manage to.” (161)
I never realized that Maud liked to work these themes into her books, but looking back at the series I can definitely pick up on that. I also learned that Maud called Delos "Delossy" (159)! Cutest Maud trivia I've learned in awhile. Delos helped Maud with a lot of her male characterizations, which is another thing I learned reading this. It was interesting to get a small peek at Maud as a wife and mother. It sounds like her daughter Merian was very smart and busy with many school activities.

My biggest pet peeve with this book is that we aren’t given the responses to letters. I feel like we only get one side. The part where this bugged me to the point of frustration was in Maud’s correspondence with Marion while preparing to write, and during the writing of Carney's House Party. Maud would ask questions, but Marion’s answers were not all published! I really wanted to get to know Marion through her own words as she grew older. Were those letters just not available? Did anyone else who's read this feel this frustration? Maybe there is a good reason they were left out, I don't know. I also wanted to hear more about Kathleen Baxter and friends' visit with Marnie in the '60s.

Dolnick did a marvelous job; I’d love to read her other Maud-related books. The real people in this book seem like such lovely individuals. I kind of feel like each of the Crowd members deserves a book like this! It would've been amazing to meet them all. I think it is neat how so many of them stayed friends throughout their entire lives.

I consider this a must-read for fans of the Betsy-Tacy series and Deep Valley books, especially those that love Carney's House Party.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? I really appreciate all of the work that went into it. There are also a lot of great photos included.

I think this book is out of print, but you can find it used online--or interloan it from your local library system, which is what I did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pompadours, Part 2: Men's Styles

1907. Morse-Made Clothing Catalog {Source}
I guess these men sport a sort-of pompadour style.
In the first part, we talked about women's pompadour hairstyles. Today I'm going to address the masculine version of this style. To begin, here's a little refresher of what a pompadour is:
  1. A woman's hairstyle formed by sweeping the hair straight up from the forehead into a high, turned-back roll.
  2. A man's hairstyle with the hair brushed up from the forehead. {Source}
The term is more common in referring to the puffy women's styles of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but as Lovelace does in the Betsy-Tacy books, it can also refer to men's hair. Where women's pompadours often used rats, padding, hair pieces, and pins to achieve the look, men's pompadours were much simpler. I actually had a rather hard time coming up with information on men's pompadours of the 1900s, but at its most basic, the style is comprised of combing the front locks back to create a slightly puffy effect above the forehead (I hope that makes sense). 
Joe (and his pompadour) as
pictured in Heaven to Betsy.
The real Joe, Maud's
husband Delos Lovelace.
This photo of him in his
WWI uniform is from the
back of  Betsy's Wedding.

Most of the information regarding men's pompadours refers to the 1950s, when icons such as James Dean, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash popularized an exaggerated version of the style. Although this cut was worn through most of the early twentieth century and beyond, it fell out of favor when the shaggy and unkempt hair of the 1970s came into vogue. While men's pompadours are not as common today, they are certainly seen more than the women's version!

But, this post is supposed to be about men's styles of the time in which Maud wrote about--the 1900s and 1910s. I had a very hard time finding anything about this, especially photos. So I'm sorry if this post doesn't have as much detail as I would like.
Here are a few quotes from the books regarding Joe's pompadour (which seems to get a lot of description from Maud):
[Joe] was so extremely good looking with light hair cut in a pompadour, and blue eyes under thick golden brows. (Betsy Was a Junior, 17)  
Joe held her off at arm's length. Under his blond pompadour and tufted golden brows, his eyes were blazingly bright. (Betsy's Wedding, 374)
This photo is from the back of Betsy Was a Junior. You can spot a few pompadours on some of the players. For
instance, I would say the boy in the second row, third from left, has a pompadour. 
Cab/Jab seems to wearing a type
 of pompadour here. This photo is
from the back of Heaven to Betsy.
 You can also look in the books (or "the tomes," as they are referred to on the Maud-L Listserv) for pictures of pompadours in Vera Neville's illustrations. For more examples of this style, I would say that Herbert's hair (pictured in this post) could probably be considered a pompadour. Also see Cab, pictured to the left. Although I am listing Herbert and Cab as examples, I don't recall Maud every describing their hair as such, so maybe I have the meaning of pompadour confused? To me, the way that their hair is puffy in the front seems to signal that it's a pompadour.

I hope this post makes it a little easier to picture what Maud is talking about when she refers to this style, and I also hope that I have all of this right! I'm kind of tired of typing pompadour now. : ) It's such an odd word, which actually comes from Madame de Pompadour.

Thank you again for the great questions, Marissa. I hope these two posts cleared things up. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Deep Valley Thanksgiving

I hope you are all having a happy Thanksgiving! In this post I am going to share some of the wonderful passages from the books about this holiday.

This picture is from Chapter 14 of Heaven to Betsy and isn't related to Thanksgiving.
But we can just pretend that Cab, Herbert, and Tony (the one waving the knife)
are cooking us Thanksgiving dinner... instead of a surprise Sunday night lunch,
which is what they're actually doing (164-165)

I didn't include the mention of Thanksgiving that occurs in Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown (584-585), because it is brief, and seems more like a winter story (to refresh your memory: "the night after Thanksgiving night" is when they went bobsledding. I'm surprised they had that much snow in November!) But here are some Thanksgiving mentions from many of the other books:
The Slades came for Thanksgiving dinner, bringing Tom who was home on vacation, which made the occasion eventful for Betsy. He was not only that highly desirable creature, a boy, but he was an old friend. He and Betsy and Tacy hard started school together. (Heaven to Betsy, 181)
The days slipped along to Thanksgiving. Tom came home, and that meant parties. Carney, Irma, and Winona all gave parties, and  Tony took Betsy to Winona's, while both he and Cab accompanied her to Irma's. (Betsy in Spite of Herself, 454)
The Rays had Thanksgiving dinner with the Slades this year. The families entertained each other at Thanksgiving, turn and turn about. The dinner was magnificent, as usual, and after it was finished, the grown people napped, Margaret went roller skating, Harry took Julia to the Majestic, and Tom and Betsy went for a walk. (Betsy in Spite of Herself, 455-456)
If Margaret was able to go roller skating, there must not have been snow that year! 
Julia came home for Thanksgiving. The train swept down the track with a special brilliance because it carried Julia. She alighted looking citified, and soon filled the Ray house with color and excitement. […]
    The Rays and Slades always had Thanksgiving dinner together. It was at the Ray house this year and was followed about twilight by Mr. Ray's turkey sandwiches and coffee, and Grandma Slade's stories. (Betsy Was  a Junior, 151-152)
[…] Thanksgiving was upon them. This year it was the Slades' turn to entertain. The Rays alternated Thanksgiving dinner with their friends, the Slades. (Betsy and Joe, 440)
"Let's go up to the Kellys'," [Tom] said off-handedly, after Thanksgiving dinner was over.
    The Kelly house was crowded with brothers and sisters home for the holidays. Tom and Betsy were warmly welcomed and offered nuts, chocolates, apples, and spare pieces of pie. (Betsy and Joe, 441)
 And I can't leave out Emily:
Thanksgiving was near now. Emily and Aunt Sophie were drawn together by their mutual eagerness.
    "You and your grandfather are coming for Thanksgiving dinner," Aunt Sophie reminded. (Emily of Deep Valley, 137)
The Betsy-Tacy books--another thing to be thankful for! : ) HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blog Things: Amazon Links, New Poll, Page Numbers, and More

Here are just a few blog things that I wanted to mention.

This picture is from the B-T Convention website. I hope they
don't mind that I used it. I thought it was very clever! {Source}
The original, unaltered image appears in Betsy Was a Junior.

Betsy-Tacy Convention 2012 

Speaking of the Betsy-Tacy Convention,  I have added a banner to the sidebar to spread the word about this. You can visit the website for lots more information.

Amazon Associate Links

I set up an Amazon Associate account. I don't actually expect to make money on this, but I wanted some way to display a link to where new readers could buy the books. You will now notice the Betsy-Tacy and Deep Valley books listed in the right column. I contacted the Betsy-Tacy Society to say that I would be happy to post the links to their account, but I never heard back from them. I do encourage you to support them also, if you plan on buying something. Just so you know, clicking through these links does not add any additional charge to the items.

A New Poll

I set up the first poll on here. You will notice that on the top right. The question is: "Which man was right for Betsy?" In other words: who do you think she should have ended up with, or are you pleased with how things turned out? Several people have already voted and I am a bit surprised at the loyalty to Joe. I thought there were some diehard Tony fans out there. Or Marco? Don't get me wrong; I like Joe and I think he was right for Betsy…but what do you think?

I realized I accidentally left Dave Hunt off of the poll. I can't fix it now because there are already votes. Hopefully no one was planning on picking him! If you were, just click 'Other' and leave a comment on this post with your selection. Or if you had someone else in mind that I overlooked, you can do the same thing. Feel free to write and comment on this post why you chose who you did!

Giveaway Winner Announced

The giveaway has ended and I have contacted the winner. Thank you all for participating, and for your great suggestions!

A Note About Page Numbers

You may have mentioned that I try to source any quotations given from the B-T or Deep Valley books. I debated about which page numbers to use, and eventually decided on the latest editions of the books from Harper Perennial (because those are the ones that I own). The only draw-back to this  is that all of these volumes except Emily of Deep Valley have bound together two or more of the books. This makes it confusing when pointing out page numbers because the earlier single editions will have a different number (I hope that made sense). I really wish they had restarted pagination for each book, even if they are bound together. Alas, they did not. The point of mentioning this is if you go to look up or read more about a section I mentioned, it might not line up with the edition you have (unless you have the latest printing). I know this is confusing, so if you have a question be sure to let me know. (Note: I went back and corrected previous posts that used different editions. All quotes on this blog should now be from the most recent printing of the Betsy-Tacy and Deep Valley books. These are the editions linked in the right column.)

Does Anyone Know What This Is?

I came across this the other day in my random searching for Betsy-Tacy things. Are they zines or something? They look interesting! (If you click on one it shows the contents.) I am especially intrigued by the "Betsy-Tacy Christmas" and Emily of Deep Valley ones. 

I think that covers it for now. Remember to vote in the poll!  : )