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Understood Betsy (1916)

by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Dorothy Canfield Fisher (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,954304,635 (4.22)1 / 120
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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 Name that Book: old kids book, city girl on a farm4 unread / 4KarenElissa, October 2012

» See also 120 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Reason read: AAC
I enjoyed discovering this author who wrote such charming stories. This one is a middle school reader and probably no longer fits our times but the points it makes about raising children to be responsible and caring children and a bit about education makes it still a good read even today. ( )
  Kristelh | Oct 13, 2023 |
This has been one of my favourite books since my mum gave it to me when I was a little girl. It belonged to her, and probably was passed along by someone even older—it is over a hundred years old! The edition I have is a battered hardcover with a torn binding and a big chunk of pages falling out, but I pick it up every few years and revisit it. It reads like historical fiction, though I believe it was contemporary when it was published. A little girl who was orphaned grows up with her fussy aunties in the big city, but when one of the aunties falls ill, she is shuffled off to live with some other relations in the country. On the Putney farm (and even on the journey there), she must exercise a dormant common sense and practicality, despite her abject terror. Her fussy aunties had never asked or expected her to do anything for herself, but despite that, she ends up finding an inner strength and independence that sees her through some adventures that may seem trivial, but represent tremendous leaps for a girl who had never had to use such traits. It is a charming story with a straightforward narrative voice that flows smoothly and simply. Although it was written in and for a very different time, the story and the lesson hold up very well. ( )
  karenchase | Jun 14, 2023 |
Betsy's confidence, health, and joy grow the further she moves from her sheltered city life with her maiden aunts.

The suspense of her new farm days and nights offers enjoyable reading to kids as they can make predictions about her future
and share their own fears and friendships. ( )
  m.belljackson | Mar 18, 2023 |
A fairly predictable children's tale about an orphan cared for by two very different sets of relatives, and the circumstances under which she thrives. It was clearly making a point about raising a child to think for herself, solve her own problems and value independence. Nothing to argue with there, but it's a bit heavy in its message at times. At other times, it's a delightful portrait of some excellent characters, and I enjoyed reading it. After reading this "novel for children", I discovered that the author was drawing on her exposure to Maria Montessori's educational principles in crafting the story, and that Dorothy Canfield Fisher was, in fact, instrumental in bringing the Montessori Method to the U. S., and was one of its earliest and strongest proponents. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jan 5, 2023 |
I can’t even remember when I first read this; presumably as a child. I think it deserves a much greater reputation as a children’s classic than it has. It’s about a little orphan girl, Elizabeth Ann, who is being raised by her two overprotective, uptight, city-dwelling aunts. Poor Elizabeth Ann is frail and vaguely sickly and afraid of everything, just like her aunties who “understand” her and smother her with love. When a family illness means she must be sent away to stay with another branch of the family who live way out in the country, she is terrified. But she blossoms as she encounters nature, animals, having responsibilities, doing things for herself, and especially her brusque but kind, plain-spoken new family. Elizabeth Ann (now Betsy) begins attending a one-room school house that amazingly seems exactly like a Montessori school, and she makes friends for the first time. The part where Betsy is left behind at the Fair, and the ending where Betsy must choose where she is going to live, elevate this book into a masterpiece. ( )
  jollyavis | Dec 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Canfield Fisherprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dorothy Canfield FisherAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, MarthaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barnett, MonetaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frohman, BobbieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hancock, AnneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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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