btt.gif A mailbox full of bills, irrational clients, rush hour on the subway, those lines starting to radiate from our eyes…sometimes adulthood is not all that was promised and we take refuge in a favorite childhood book. We were recently pleased as punch to discover that there exists a New York chapter of the Betsy-Tacy society. If you are asking yourself, “what’s Betsy-Tacy?” it’s too late for you (unless you’re a ten-year-old girl). But if you live in New York and are familiar with Maud Hart Lovelace’s intensely beloved series, which follows the life of a small-town Minnesota girl who wants to be a writer—and by “familiar” we mean “your copies of the books, which you stole from various friends and libraries, are falling apart”—now you know where to find others who want to talk about picnics on the big hill and ruffles pinned beneath dancing-dress bodices. The society meets every other month at Coliseum Books to discuss Betsy-Tacy books and other young adult titles. The next meeting is Monday at 6:30, when the group addresses Betsy and the Great World (we are happy to say that the books have been reissued in the past decade, though we can’t get behind the new cover art).

Closer to home and much more up-to-date, The Rise and Fall of a 10th-Grade Social Climber is, we like to think, the modern equivalent of the Betsy-Tacy books. Unsurprisingly, however, Betsy’s early-20th-century Deep Valley was a much gentler place than Mimi Shulman’s New York: Betsy thought holding hands was improper; Mimi’s friends meet beneath the Brooklyn Bridge to drink wine coolers. Having moved from Houston to Manhattan, Mimi must absorb a whole new set of codes governing friendship, popularity, romance, and style when she begins tenth grade at a St. Ann’s stand-in called Baldwin. In a classic teen-fiction storyline, Mimi makes a bet that might get her in trouble. However scheming she is, she’s so sweet and funny you can’t help but like her as she reveals a world of privileged New York adolescents that will cause you either to gag or to start believing every incredible thing New York and The Observer have to say about the children of the rich and important. We never read contemporary “young adult” fiction, but we couldn’t put Social Climber down. Full disclosure: we are acquainted with the charming and hilarious authors, Lauren Mechling and Laura Moser, a claim you’ll be able to make yourself if you come to their reading at the Park Avenue Borders at 6:30 on Thursday.

While we’re on the subject of books for young ladies (sorry, boys), if you missed the poet Mary Jo Salter’s essay about Louisa May Alcott in the Times Book Review, you should take a look. And for even more about how children read, how we write for them, and how our childhood books stay with us, you can still read Meghan O’Rourke’s New Yorker piece about Nancy Drew online.