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A true character development novel with lots of wisdom in it, Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, has a lot to offer to the youngest readers and to older kids as well.The novel is the story of Elizabeth Ann, a nine-year-old orphan living with his deceased father’s aunt, Harriet and Elizabeth Ann’ cousin, Frances. She lives a sheltered life, with her foster family spoiling and protecting her from everything too hard to do or too difficult to comprehend, but then the little girl must leave this cushioned existence and move to her mother’s relatives to a farm in Vermont at least for a while, because Aunt Harriet must visit her ailing sister somewhere in the West.Her new life is full of chores she has never done before and she discovers a lot about the world and about herself during the process of learning. She learns how to tend to animals, how to make maple syrup and butter, but in fact she learns much more than that: she finds out about herself, her boundaries and her talents. Just when she has come to feel comfortable in her new environment, Elizabeth Ann’s life is to take an unexpected turn again: cousin Frances comes to take Elizabeth Ann back to her home to live with them again.Most part of the novel represents the period Elizabeth Ann spends in Vermont – a period of explorations, experiences and lots of fun. From a child living in an overprotective environment and doing nothing at all, the girl becomes an active and responsible girl, able to do a lot by herself and having her own opinion about things. The novel features the main character’s passage from complete dependence to independence – a long and not always easy process that is presented in a sweet, well-structured, entertaining and educative manner.