Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Betsy Was a ???

It’s finally release day for the new editions of the Betsy-Tacy high school books! I’m not buying copies right away, but I am re-reading the high school books in honor of the re-release.

My re-read has given me a burning question: What is up with the title Betsy Was a Junior? Thankfully, Maud Hart Lovelace did not give us Betsy Was a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior, but given that none of the other books has this type of title, why this one?

I suspect that naming the book was as difficult as reading it. Not that it’s a particularly challenging book – it’s just not the most fun of the Betsy-Tacy books. Perhaps it simply didn't evoke any other title for Maud or her publisher.

I mean, look at what happens:

  • Betsy accomplishes almost nothing she had planned to during the school year.
  • The Crowd becomes even more cliquish and alienates the rest of the school.
  • Betsy dates Dave Hunt, the strong, silent one. Whee.
  • Margaret almost blows herself up because Betsy doesn’t come home on time.
  • No Essay Contest for Betsy. No committee chairmanships for the Crowd.
  • Tony almost drifts off into perfectly-awful-land.
  • Cab’s father dies.

Valuable lessons are learned (Aber ja! Naturlich!), and there are high jinks as well, but it’s pretty depressing overall.

If you were going to give this book a different name, what would it be? Betsy and the Okto Deltas? Gang Aft Agley?


Jessi said...

I have always wondered about this myself! My sister and I sometimes call the high school books "Betsy Was a Freshman" etc. as a joke on the Junior title. I always feel a little hesitant to read BWAJ because it has so much conflict compared to the other books, but I am always reminded that I love it anyway. Maybe it should have been called "Betsy Goes Aft Agley." or "Betsy Regains Tib." haha.

Jeanine Sallos said...

It could be called "Hence, loathed melancholy" or "Haste, ye nymphs!"

Maybe it's a commentary on what can happen in one's junior year - like, "okay, all of these horrible things happened because, after all, Betsy WAS a Junior". However, it seems to me that by that time in high school most kids seem to have settled down and are on track, so that's probably not it at all. :-)

Book Club Girl said...

Hmm, this is inspiring me to go into the archives to see if I can find another title in the files and contracts! Will try to report back!

Darsa M. said...

Betsy Tacy & Tib Redux