I have not read the Betsy-Tacy books.
As such, my spending the day in Mankato, Minnesota (birthplace of author Maud Hart Lovelace) with Lovelace historian Kathleen Baxter and Betsy-Tacy savant Melissa Wiley…
…was either an act of bravery or leap of stupidity.
Have you read the Betsy-Tacy books? Have you been to Mankato, Minnesota? You really should if you haven’t, you know—come to Minnesota, that is, (because we’re so nice) but also read this amazing series. Bring everyone along with you on this literary journey—your girls, your mom, your grandma, your goddaughter…
Heck, why not get the guys on board? There’s history here and loads of characters…
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.
So yes, swallowing my pride and shouldering my camera, I set out to see Mankato, Minnesota. The day was, if I may reference yet another writer, practically perfect in every way.
~ Melissa Wiley and Kathleen Baxter ~
Kathy Baxter was an amazing tour guide. She is the author of the excellent Gotcha! series and a gal who really knows Kids’ Lit. What’s more, she is a fount of knowledge when it comes to Maud Hart Lovelace and even—you need to brace yourself here—had a personal correspondence with Lovelace herself.
And met Cab.
And had tea with Carney.
The three of us arrived mid-Sunday morning, where we met up with several members of the Betsy-Tacy historical society.
From left to right: Jackie Hilgert, Kathy Baxter, Melissa Wiley, Susan Brown
They were a warm, fun-loving bunch who served us fresh berries and homemade granola bars. More importantly, they let us into Betsy and Tacy’s homes! First we gathered at the home of Tacy (real name: Frances “Bick” Kenney) and then we crossed the street to Betsy’s house.
Lissa’s knees began to knock.
Lissa’s knees began to knock.
Our tour guide Bob Brown really knew his stuff and shared story after story from Betsy and Tacy’s past. I’m not sure if he knew who all Lissa was—for example, that she is a huge promoter of the series and has written the foreward for one of the Deep Valley books—or if rather, as a true historian who loves his job, he simply couldn’t resist telling all the tales.
Not surprisingly, I had a lot of fun watching Lissa’s reactions.
I could tell that she wanted to answer his questions; I could tell she was struggling with her inner Hermione.
Gracious and well-mannered guest that she was, however, Lissa looked & listened & said very little.
(That’s the mark of a truly great writer, don’t you think?)
(Not that I know much about it.)
Truth be told, Lissa knows the Betsy-Tacy books by heart and loves the characters like they were friends. Her day in Mankato was a dream come true.
In fact, there were several times throughout the tour that Lissa fainted clean away.
Not really, but she was quite excited.
For good reason.
She sat on Winona’s wall, for heaven’s sake!
She walked up the hill! She sat on the bench!
For a lover of all things Maud Hart Lovelace, Mankato is the place to be.
What a fun bunch!
What a knowledgeable crew!
What a glorious day for this future fan!
~ Tibb’s Chocolate-Colored House ~Okay, I’m the one who’s giddy now—giddy at the memory, giddy with hope, giddy at the thought that I have all these books to look forward to.
Hi, Betsy! Hi, Tacy! My name is Margaret…
…and I am very, very pleased to meet you.
A caboodle of all things Maud Hart Lovelace:
- The Betsy-Tacy books on Amazon
- The Maud Hart Lovelace Society
- The Betsy-Tacy Historical Society
- Books sold at the Betsy-Tacy Society (half the cost of your purchase goes directly to ongoing preservation of the houses and literary outreach)
- Resources for teaching the Betsy-Tacy Books
- My photos from our day in Mankato
- Melissa Wiley’s photos from our day in Mankato