My faithful readers know that the reissue of Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy high school and beyond books last fall was one of the highlights of my publishing career, so strong is the love I have for these books. But as great as that experience was, I felt that any reissuing was not complete until we had also brought Lovelace's three "Deep Valley" books back into print as well. Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart are both set in Betsy Ray's Deep Valley, and feature co-starring characters from Lovelace's beloved series, now in starring roles. And with Emily of Deep Valley, Lovelace gave us her only true stand-alone YA novel (though Cab Edwards does appear!), and one that is thought by many to be her finest work.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes one to reissue a book as these three books have found their way back in print, in two volumes (Carney and Winona are published together), with the help of an amazing group of fans, scholars and authors. Let me explain.
First, there are the covers - we have once again reprised Vera Neville's beloved illustrations on the front of the books. And, for the first time ever, a biography of Vera Neville, about which very little has been written or known (check it out, there's not even a wikipedia page!) is now included in the books, along with a photo of this elusive illustrator. The biography was written by Teresa Gibson, a fellow fan of Lovelace's and Neville's who has done extensive research on her life and works and who presented on Neville at last year's Betsy-Tacy Convention.
The books also contain a new biography of Lovelace written by Julie Schrader, who was most recently Executive Director of the Betsy-Tacy Society and is the author of Maud Hart Lovelace's Deep Valley. Julie also provided historical background material on the real women behind the characters Emily Webster and Winona Root. And Amy Dolnick, author of Future in a Handbasket: The Life and Letters Behind Carney's House Party, wrote a wonderful essay about the real woman behind Carney Sibley, a favorite of Betsy's Crowd. And within each volume, there are also archival photos of all the people depicted in Lovelace's stories.
With just these additions the books would be amazing. But, thanks to the internet, we also have two amazing new forewords by authors Melissa Wiley and Mitali Perkins. Why thanks to the internet? Well it was last fall's extensive blogging about Betsy that led me to find Melissa Wiley, blogger at Here in the Bonny Glen, and author of the Martha and Charlotte Years of the Little House on the Prairie ?series. I found in Melissa a fellow fan and cyber soulmate, if you will, and when it came time to work on these books, I immediately reached out to her to ask her to write a foreword to the combined edition of Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart. And it was Twitter that led me to acclaimed YA novelist Mitali Perkins, author of Secret Keeper and most recently, Bamboo People. I saw that she too was a fan and I'll never forget her enthusiastic response to my email asking if she would write the foreword to Emily of Deep Valley.
Carney's House Party/Winona's Pony Cart and Emily of Deep Valley go on sale today, October 12th and there are several events to celebrate them (not to mention many book blog reviews). In future posts I'll take you through each book, but in the meantime, you can browse inside Carney and Winona and Emily; and look for an event online or near you. I also hope that old and new Lovelace fans will join us on Tuesday, November 15th, when Melissa and Mitali will talk with me on Book Club Girl on Air about all things Betsy, Carney, Emily and Winona!
All of these women volunteered their time and talent to make these reissues what they are and I, for one, am forever in their debt. Thanks to them, these books came together not like an herbarium made in one long all-nighter the day before they were due (see: Betsy Was a Junior), but rather like a perfectly planned Betsy-Tacy picnic, complete with the blackened cocoa pail. I am thrilled that they are available again to be discovered by a new generation of readers and reclaimed by longtime fans.
Reissue Celebrations Online
October Thanks so much to Sarah at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind for hosting the second annual Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge! The challenge runs throughout the month of October to celebrate the reissue of these three Deep Valley books. Sarah's post last Saturday about Maud herself serves as an absolutely wonderful overview of Maud's life and her books.
November 1st-5th Mitali Perkins will run a tweet-read of Emily of Deep Valley, using hashtag #classicread.
November 15th Book Club Girl on Air show about all things Betsy, Carney, Emily and Winona!
Saturday, October 16th The Betsy-Tacy Society Party to Celebrate the Reissues at Betsy’s and Tacy’s houses in Mankato
Sunday, November 7th The Maud Hart Lovelace Society Party at Magers & Quinn Booksellers Party in Minneapolis
Saturday, November 13th Mitali Perkins Event at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA
Saturday, November 20th Melissa Wiley Event at Readers Inc in Santa Mesa, CA! *** Just Added!