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Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Understood Betsy (1916)

by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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1,112None7,394 (4.16)1 / 59

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Really good! I didn't know until this reading that it was Montessori principles in action. Very enjoyable, not preachy. I did love this as a child. I like books like this where a person works to become better and we get a chance to see their growth and the joy and pride that comes with it. ( )
  njcur | Feb 21, 2014 |
It was a cute story about a girl realizing she was stronger than she ever imagined. ( )
  sarahzilkastarke | Nov 20, 2013 |
This is like totally some kind of Montessori school propaganda, those bastards!!
But it's also really sweet, it's kind of like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Anne of Green Gables or something, but it's all about how to be self-sufficient and be educated at your own level and have self-confidence and stuff.
Plus applesauce. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
Absolutely loved this book. I only didn't give it a 5-star review because I feel those should be saved for mind-blowingly good books, like "To Kill a Mockingbird." "Understood Betsy" is just one of those easy-to-read classics, in the same vein as "Pollyanna," that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. It makes me a little sniffly that they don't write children's books like this anymore. ( )
  amandamay83 | Apr 2, 2013 |
Okay, it's not really that new to me because I read it as a kid, and then again for the NYBT book discussion group. It was amazing to me how many years have gone by since I've read this (although I did read it multiple times as a child) and SO MANY of the scenes and details were instantly familiar. You would think I had read it yesterday.

Let's see, orphan Betsy lives with her milksoppy aunt and cousin, and when her aunt becomes ill, she is sent to live with other relatives in Vermont, who are hearty, active and self-sufficient people. At first Betsy is freaked out, then she becomes hearty, active and self-sufficient. As we might expect.

Reading it now, it's a bit preachy -- Dorothy Canfield Fisher was an educational reformer and this book, obviously I think, was intended to underscore some of her ideas about the merits of a hearty, active, and self-sufficient education. It feels very heavy-handed to an adult reader. On that basis, I was going to give it three stars, but then added a star because I remember enjoying the heck out of this as a little kid and didn't notice the agenda at all (then again, also Not the Brightest Kid), and I feel that because so many of the events described in the book have stuck with me for so long speaks well of the quality of the story ( )
  delphica | May 4, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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When this story begins, Elizabeth Ann, who is the heroine of it, was a little girl of nine, who lived with her great-aunt Harriet in a medium-sized city in a medium-sized state in the middle of this country; and that's all you need to know about the place, for it's not the important thing in the story; and anyhow you know all about it because it was probably very much like the place you live in yourself.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805060731, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:32 -0400)

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Timid and small for her age, nine-year-old Elizabeth Ann discovers her own abilities and gains a new perception of the world around her when she goes to live with relatives on a farm in Vermont.

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