Tonight I rectify a great injustice. Yes, I must confess it: I have never before read a Betsy-Tacy story. It follows that I never read them to my children either. And yet, I lived for three years just 25 miles from Mankato, the “Deep Valley” of the Betsy-Tacy books, and many more years in Minnesota, home of Maud Hart Lovelace. I found this story in Christmas in Minnesota, published in 2005 by the Minnesota Historical Society. The story is cited as coming from Down Town: A Betsy-Tacy Story, published in 1943. I’m not sure if this is the same as the book Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, published the same year. There is a Betsy-Tacy Society which has restored the homes of Maud Hart Lovelace and her best friend, on whom the stories are based. Above is a picture of the first Betsy-Tacy book with the original cover illustrations by Lois Lenski (she wrote as well as illustrated and I may be reading one of her stories later on.)There aren’t many good songs about Christmas shopping; “Pretty Paper” and “Shake Me, I Rattle” are a bit maudlin for my taste, and there is a new song called “I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping at the Mall” which does not fit the spirit of our story. So we turn to the classic “Silver Bells,” in its first recorded version by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards.
For those who want something a little more substantial, in 2006 I read In Clean Hay by Eric P. Kelly; a good song to go with it is “Wsród nocnej ciszy (Amid the Silence)”, a Polish carol sung by a Polish choir. You can read more about them here.
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