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Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Understood Betsy (1916)

by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,509184,901 (4.18)1 / 87

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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I thought it would be corny and old-fashioned, but I got really into it because the narrator told the story with a sort of twinkle in the eye. Like the words are simple enough to be read aloud as a bedtime story, but there are so many spot on insights about humans, especially in the way the adults act or react, that if you are an adult yourself you will recognize the sly humor.

The descriptions of country life are just enough to paint a picture without getting too florid (the included sketches are also lovely by the way), and the scenes always had some kind of action going on in them that they pulled the reader smoothly forward. Many chapters featured a situation which forces Betsy to change for the better, and it was satisfying to see Betsy progress from a timid, coddled Town Mouse to a strong, independent black woman brave and resourceful child.

Feel good story. There are some scenes where my eyes got a little watery. Should read for Christmas or for when one is feeling downtrodden and/or useless. Inspires a Can Do attitude and warm, fuzzy feelings without forcing it down your throat. This Grinch gives it four stars.

Free on Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5347/5347-h/5347-h.htm ( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
I first read this book when I was 12 years old, it had belonged to my mother when she was a child. Looking for a book for the Darth-Heather challenge of “Read a book more than a hundred years old” I chose this book which was first published in 1917.
In rereading this book I once again felt old feelings of learning lessons of childhood and how to be successful. Dorothy Canfield Fisher embraced the teaching methods of Maria Montessori – of indirect support and challenges to self-instruction, are reflected in Understood Betsy.
This is a great book, one which I plan to read with my grandson, or perhaps I will find an audio version for him, for his after school reading. I wish teachers would encourage students to read this as Dorothy Canfield Fisher was a pioneer in children’s literature.
99 ( )
1 vote Bettesbooks | Mar 31, 2017 |
Read during Fall 2001

Heartwarming, homepsun story about orphan Betsy finding her life and spirit on a farm in Vermont. It was hokey but it didn't beat you over the head and the New England winteryness made me feel nostalgic. The copyright is 1916 but it was reprinted by Scholastic in the 50's and I wondered if it has been updated a bit. Just a few things. Excessively enjoyable.
  amyem58 | Jul 11, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Canfield Fisherprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alexander, MarthaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barnett, MonetaIllustratorsecondary 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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:43 -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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