Here is the second honorable mention essay. As an admirer of the heroine in question I must say that I thought the judges (pictured to the side) did a wonderful job in honoring it!
Betsy- Tacy Essay: The Woman That I Most Admire – Tib
As Betsy and Tacy approach the chocolate colored house on Pleasant Street “they saw what looked like a clothes pin, standing prongs up” and suddenly realize that the amusing image is actually “a little girl standing on her head” (Betsy-Tacy). That “dainty and small” girl whose “arms, legs, and face were tanned” with “round blue eyes” and “short fluff of yellow hair” is Thelma Muller, or Tib, as Betsy and Tacy come to know her. The character of Tib, a bright, independent, yet modest young girl enhances Maud Hart Lovelace’s novels by conveying a unique and innovative young woman living in a brand new century through her brave, courageous, and compassionate nature, her individuality, and her instinctive common sense.
Tib’s brave and courageous nature seems foreign to Betsy and Tacy as they have never seen such a small statured girl behave in a fierce, straightforward, and just manner before. From the beginning of their companionship, Tib assumes the role as the risk-taker of the trio as she often marches to the beat of her own drum. Lovelace depicts this unlikely attribute of such a “dainty” little girl growing up in the early nineteen hundreds in many instances throughout the series. In Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, Tib’s ethical and principle minded conscience asserts itself as she courageously defends the little Syrian girl named Naifi, whom she and Betsy and Tacy had befriended upon the Big Hill, from a circle of tormenting, vicious, and cruel boys. Lovelace describes Tib in this heated moment as “a small shining comet” as she pushes her way through the circle shouting, “‘You let her go! You let her be!’” All of a sudden a boy named Sam pushes
little, but brave Tib backwards while simultaneously ripping the accordion-pleated dress which Tib had worn that day to perform her baby dance for the school entertainment. She felt proud of this lovely dress which her mother had sewn for her to wear, but “heedless of her dress, Tib pushed Naifi through a break in the circle,” thus proving her strength and ability to act in a compassionate nature whenever she finds a friend in need.
Though Tib loves to go along with Betsy and Tacy in school and around town, she does not, however, act as a follower. Lovelace depicts Tib as her own individual person, which perhaps is why Betsy and Tacy admire her so and find her a remarkable friend. Throughout the series, Tib has her own ideas and aspirations, and unlike Betsy and Tacy, whose mothers let them run and have fun as children, “Tib’s mother believed in children knowing how to work. Tib dusted the legs of the chairs and polished the silver. She was learning to cook and sew” (Betsy-Tacy and Tib). Tib’s different background and household upbringing resonates with her through her childhood and into young adulthood as she embraces her uncommon and individualistic ideas. In Betsy’s Wedding, Lovelace illustrates this characteristic attitude in Tib as she behaves differently from other girls when the thought of marriage arises. One can distinctly see this attitude in Tib when Betsy asks her, “’When are you going to settle down?’” and Tib replies casually, “‘Why should I settle down? I’m good at my job. Saving money. Like my boarding house.’” Later on in the novel, Tib explains her reasoning to Betsy as she says, “’Just because I’m small, men think I’m a clinging vine. They think I need to be protected. Imagine that! Why, I like to paddle my own canoe! I like adventure. I want to see the world.’” Though Betsy agrees with Tib’s notions, she becomes astounded when Tib says, “‘I’m saving my money to buy an automobile’” as “Betsy did not know an unmarried girl who owned an automobile.” But of course, the innovative, individualistic, headstrong Tib would be the first. Tib confirms this as she pronounces, “’I’m going to drive my auto all over the United States.’” Tib’s fresh, unique, and modern way of thinking allow her to separate from the mold of what a woman should be, and, in result, become a contemporary woman during the turn of the century.
Perhaps the best attribute which Tib possesses is her constant use of common sense and honesty throughout the many encounters and situations which she comes across with Betsy and Tacy. Tib always seems to say the most sensible, yet simplistic words, that have the effect of bringing Betsy and Tacy back to reality. In Betsy-Tacy, and Tib, Lovelace depicts this quality in Tib’s character in a short, simple conversation as Betsy says, “‘I wouldn’t like to be playing the piano today’” and Tib’s quickness of thought answers Betsy saying, “’Neither would I […] Of course […] we don’t know how.’” To convey the important distinction between Tib and Betsy and Tacy, as well as the dimension that Tib adds to their friendship, Lovelace writes, “Neither Betsy nor Tacy would have pointed that out. Tib was always pointing such things out. But Betsy and Tacy liked her just the same.” Tib’s sensible nature seems to emerge most in Betsy Was a Junior after she and Betsy and Tacy delay working on their herbarium project until the last moment possible. Tib announces quite honestly as they walk down Hill Street, “‘I think […] that this was an idiotic thing to do […] As a matter of fact […] we’ve had a pretty foolish year. You and I especially, Betsy. It’s been fun, and I guess it’s been worth it, but I wouldn’t want another year this foolish.’” Tib even goes on to say, “‘We’re getting a little old for this sort of thing.’” Even though Tib may seem a bit too frank, open, and honest about how she feels at times, Betsy and Tacy need her to pull them back to their own senses, and Tib does this well. Her open honesty though, is never meant to be rude or rash, but instead heartfelt as she confides to Betsy, “I like all the girls at the Sem very much, and I like my cousins, but there’s never been anyone like you and Tacy” (Betsy in Spite of Herself).
When I was five years old, my mom began reading the Betsy-Tacy series to me each night before I went to bed. I remember the night Tib was introduced in the book; I had so many questions to ask my mom about this interesting girl’s character. She seemed a bit like me, with a short, dainty stature, yet fun-loving and high-spirited. I could tell that this little girl was tough and I liked that. I, like Tib, hated when people would think of me as too small to do anything great, but Tib always managed to prove others wrong. With her bold, fearless, compassionate nature toward others, her knowing of self, independence, and individuality, and her levelheaded, reasonable, and sincere nature, I admire her to this day as she encompasses the idea of stepping out of the ordinary, breaking the original mold, and proving that sweet, dainty, little girls can still have big dreams, too.