Showing posts with label Betty Cavanna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Betty Cavanna. Show all posts

The Scarlet Sail by Betty Cavanna (1959)

Andrea Pierce, spending her summer vacation on Cape Cod, is given a scarlet-sailed Turnabout. But she doesn't know how to manage a sail boat and, being uncertain of herself, she thinks she will never be able to learn. Then Mike, the boy who is to give her lessons, further dampens her spirits by saying that the red sail which she found so cute is actually a safety precaution.

This is just the beginning of Andrea's conflict with Mike and with herself. But soon, through new-found determination, she takes second place in the boat race and wins the admiration of the people she loves ... (from the back cover)

Mystery in Marrakech by Betty Cavanna (1968)

The nine-hundred-year-old city of Marrakech appeared to Dizzy Driscoll very much as she had imagined it.  Medieval ramparts and ten great gates. Mosques with green-tiled domes and the wail of the muezzins calling the faithful. Even though she was visiting her roommate's family, Dizzy found her strange surroundings made her feel somewhat apprehensive.

Still she was unprepared when her vague fears were fulfilled, and her friend Felicia was spirited away from the city. Together with Rick, Felicia's brother, Dizzy set out on an anxious trip across the rugged Atlas Mountains to find help. Their journey led them finally to the ancient Casbah of Telouet, a cluster of ghostly spires reaching into the sky that seemed to emanate evil like a witch's castle in a fairy tale. What would they find concealed in its deserted 600 rooms?

Betty Cavanna, who has taken two extensive trips to Morocco, is a favorite author of young people's books. An exciting mystery plot against the striking Moroccan background makes this colorful adventure one of her most appealing stories. (from the inside flap)

Jenny Kimura by Betty Cavanna (1964)

Wearing her kimono, Jenny faced her American grandmother and Alan. Her entrance was as theatrical as if she had planned it for the stage. Alan, the Kansas City boy who was showing Jenny so much flattering attention, liked her thoroughly Japanese appearance. But Mrs. Smith, her grandmother, was horrified to see her dressed so inappropriately for an afternoon wedding.

Mrs. Smith had invited her granddaughter to visit her in the United States, but Jenny, whose mother was Japanese and whose father was American, did not know how to please her domineering grandmother. As the summer flew by, it took even more than an intolerant attitude on the part of Alan's mother to show Mrs. Smith that her own outlook was also biased. All Jenny could do was follow her father's advise and be herself, however difficult that might be.

In this tender and thoughtful story, Jenny compares Kansas City and then Cape Cod to her home in Tokyo, giving readers the unique opportunity to see their country through another's eyes, and Betty Cavanna demonstrates again her complete understanding of the minds of young people. (from the inside flap)

A Girl Can Dream by Betty Cavanna (1948)

"Tomboy" Loretta Larkin excels in sports, but privately envies her popular blonde high school classmate, Elsie Wynn.  When the new local airport announces an essay contest with flying lessons as the tempting prize, Rette decides to enter--and wins!  She finds that learning to solo can be a way to not-soloing the prom.

TAB Club members voted heavily in favor of Betty Cavanna.  She writes of teen-agers with sure understanding of their inner lives and the high school scene.  A Girl Can Dream was a Junior Literary Guild Selection.  Before writing it Miss Cavanna herself took flying lessons and learned about "stalls" and "spins" From a flying instructor not unlike Pat Creatore. (from the back cover)

Fancy Free by Betty Cavanna (1961)

Some fancies dissolve in thin air ...

Frivolous Francesca Jones decides on impulse to go with her archaeologist father to Peru for the summer.  Dr. Jones is taking a group of students on an expedition high in the Andes. Fancy begins to regret her decision as soon as she meets all these studious types, but by then the plane is in the air.

Used to a kind of lazy life, Fancy, once in Peru, is amazed to find her mind stretching along with her muscles, as she learns the difference between a boy with charm and a boy with character; the care and feeding of a baby llama; and how not only to get along with eggheads, but to like them!  (from the back cover)

Angel on Skis by Betty Cavanna (1957)

Angela gazed down at the powdery new snow with a rising sense of anticipation.  Frost had turned its surface into crystals that glittered in the sun like sequins. She knew exactly the light swishing sound her skis would make as they lifted it in a sparkling cloud. This was her world--a white world of snow and speed and excitement. But to enter it, Angela had traveled a hard road.

When her mother moved to Vermont to support the family by running a guesthouse for skiers, Angela knew there wasn't a penny to spare for buying skis. But that did not lessen her almost fanatic determination to learn to ski. How she really did learn is a major theme of this novel. Because the author is intimately acquainted with skiing techniques, it is completely authentic. Because she knows so well how to re-create the breathless wonder of the ski slopes, it is enchanting. But that is not all. Miss Cavanna's story is warm with the glow of happy family life, and shining with romance; for the ski trails lead Angela to the glory of first love. (from the inside flap)

6 on Easy Street by Betty Cavanna (1954)

The Sanford family of Haverford has inherited a small inn in Nantucket.  All of the family except sixteen-year-old Deborah are excited over the prospect of a summer spent in learning how to run the inn.  Deborah is in love--and she is unhappy about leaving attractive Craig Vale for the whole summer.

Each of the children has a job to do in the old inn, and Deborah waits on table. Her main ambition is to get enough money to visit Craig in July for a week at the shore in Jersey.  Very few of the guests leave tips, however, and she is forced to work out a different scheme for saving the money she needs.

How Deborah faces her problems during this summer is woven into a story of how a girl grows up.  While it is difficult for her to overcome her selfishness and face the need for becoming mature, Deborah finds by the time the summer is over that her stay in Nantucket has turned out to be one of the happiest times of her life.

There is good characterization in this story, and a delightful picture of a family who know how to live together in heartwarming comradeship.  There are glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of this family and their friends which are genuinely true to life, and bring the reader into acquaintance with real people.  And there is the authentic background of Nantucket to add extra interest, zest and color to the story. (from the inside flap)

The Boy Next Door by Betty Cavanna (1956)

Everyone in town took it for granted that Jane Howard was Ken Sanderson's girl, but Jane felt that they were just good "pals." The night Ken tried to show her that he was not at all happy with is unromantic role, Jane instinctively rebuffed him. When her vivacious younger siste, Belinda, began to date Ken, Jane found herself going through a period of bitterness and jealousy. But with new interests at school and an exciting young English boy, Jane finally gained a greater understanding of herself and the world in which she lived. (from the back cover)

Passport to Romance by Betty Cavanna (1955)

Now that the farewells were over and the big ship was gliding out of New York harbor, Jody stood at the rail and wondered forlornly whether a year at school in Switzerland was really worth it after all. It's time you were on your own, her father had said, but she would miss his gay, easy companionship terribly. Her friends were sure she would meet some perfectly fascinating boy, but what good would it do her if he didn't speak the same language. Jody felt miserably alone and uncertain.

That "scared rabbit" feeling was one that returned to Jody again and again during the first months at school.  Because of the language barrier, it was hard to make new friends, and Mary Lou, the sophisticated Southern girl who had been her cabin mate aboard ship, went out of her way to make Jody feel young and childish.  Even an unexpected meeting with Timothy, a lanky, serious-minded boy she liked, only embarrassed her, because of his ungainly appearance.  The school year stretched ahead endlessly--and then, one day, it snowed.

Snow means skiing in Switzerland and, for Jody, skiing became a passionate new interest.  Absorbed in perfecting her skill, Jody began to forget her self-doubt.  Soon she was happily caught up in a tentative romance with the handsome instructor whom Mary Lou coveted, a gay Christmas vacation in Geneva, and her growing friendship with Timothy.  Then all her new assurance was suddenly shattered and it was only after near tragedy that Jody realized, once and for all, that she had become a person in her own right.

Betty Cavanna's understanding of girls and her ability to talk their language have made her one of the most popular writers in the country.  In this engrossing novel, based on the real letters of an American girl at a Swiss school, Miss Cavanna has perceptively re-created all the conflicting emotions of that most trying period in a young girl's life--the year in which she begins to accept growing up.  (from the inside flap)

Stars in her Eyes by Betty Cavanna (1958)

Magda Page's family and friends had reduced her distinctive first name to just plain Maggie, but no one could tarnish the luster of her last name. Maggie, in her early teens, was a little too plump and not very sure of herself; but Maggie's father was the famous television personality whose show, "Peter Page Presents," was known from coast to coast. Maggie longed to look glamorous (though not enough to make her curb her appetite), to be attractive to boys (though she didn't quite know how to go about it), and, above all, to appear triumphantly on her father's television show.  (from the inside flap)

Going on Sixteen by Betty Cavanna (1946)

It should be a wonderful dress. It should be a dress that would transform her from the awkward, self-conscious Julie Ferguson into an entirely different girl. Fervently, Julie whispered to the mirror, "I hope." (from the back cover)

Accent on April by Betty Cavanna (1960)

Kathy McCall buried her face in her hands and collapsed in tears. Then unexpectedly, she began to laugh, a little hysterically. "Goodness," murmured her mother, "storms and sunshine. I'm certainly glad April isn't often." Mrs. McCall, of course, was thinking of the sudden storms of the teen-age years. Kathy, however, decided that for most of this past year the accent had been on April in their home. (from the inside flap)

Paintbox Summer by Betty Cavanna (1949)

A summer on Cape Code, studying in Peter Hunt's studio! Beach parties, swimming, summer fun! A dream summer for any girl. Kate Vale, heroine of Paintbox Summer by Betty Cavanna, popular author for teen-agers, has just that. At Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Code, Peter Hunt established his colorful workshop, Peasant Village, where young people come to study. His gaily decorated furniture and novelties are known around the world. (from the back cover)

Spurs for Suzanna by Betty Cavanna (1947)

"Oh, why couldn't she go off to a summer place the way her friends did?  Why couldn't her family move to the suburbs?  Why couldn't she do what she most wanted--ride horses?  Why?  --Sue knows the answer.  Her father is ill.  Her mother must work.  When the Ballantines invite her to the farm she discovers she has much to learn about riding--and other people.  Another novel by a writer who is tops with teen-agers--Betty Cavanna."

Betty Cavanna has written such a number of iconic novels for 'teen-agers' that it was hard to decide which book to talk about first.  Her books were stand-alone novels that focused on one particular girl and her ambitions, her personal journey, and, often secondarily, her love life. Cavanna created vivid, endearing characters in vibrant, memorable settings--from a Swiss boarding school to an artist's colony on Cape Cod to an Eastern horse ranch.

Although my two favorites are probably Passport to Romance (the Swiss boarding school) and Paintbox Summer (the artist's colony), I keep coming back to Spurs for Suzanna as Cavanna's most representative work.  I've had this book since I was a very young girl, and have read it many times.  I was never a horse-obsessed girl, but something about this book spoke to me.

As the novel begins, Sue is having lunch with her friends at school and discussing their summer vacation plans.  Everyone has fun plans out of town but Sue, whose grandmother just sold the family beach house and is facing a dreary summer alone in the city (Philadelphia).  I love this passage describing her walk home from school--as a Midwestern suburban kid, city living seemed impossibly sophisticated to me:
"The red light changed to amber, brakes squealed, amber shifted to green, and Sue started across the street, neither hurrying nor loitering, her smooth young face a mask.  This was her automatic city-expression, an aloof, indifferent look that never met anyone or anything directly.  She was conscious of hiding behind it, as all girls and women did, in town here, and it was part of the reason she wised she lived in the country.  In the country no one would be watching.  Walking home from school out where Pat lives she'd be able to pout or laugh or scratch her stomach if she felt like it, as she did now." 
Sue attends a private school and her friends live mostly in the town and the country.  The public school kids consider her a snob for attending private school.  The best part of her day is visiting with the mounted policeman and his horse.  A latchkey kid (in 1947!), she goes home to an empty house, as her mother kept her job as a fashion photographer after Sue's father fell ill with a tubercular infection.

Things start to look up when Sue's mother takes her to the Devon Horse Show for her fifteenth birthday.  Here's Sue, getting dressed for the horse show: 
"She was wearing her first real suit, a gray men's wear flannel jacket bound with white and a brief kick-pleated skirt.  She had a gray beanie to match the outfit but she decided against it.  Girls were going without hats this year, even in the city and on trains."
At the horse show, her mother runs into an old friend and Sue is invited to spend a month with the Ballantines at High Acres, their horse farm.  Sue is extraordinarily excited for her visit, to the exclusion of all else.  Before she leaves, her mother enigmatically presents her with her aunt's spurs--noting that she doesn't expect them to be used on a horse.

Sue arrives at High Acres, meets the family--including slightly older Jigger, slightly younger Missy, ten-year-old Poke and baby Stevie.  After being so excited for her trip, she starts to feel ill at ease.  She's not very used to housework, she dresses too well to go riding, and she feels like an outsider in the family, as a paying guest to the farm.  She goes on a ride much rougher than she'd been used to in the city with the Ballantine kids and ends up falling off her horse into a brook.  She stomps off: 
"Jigger smiled, trying to make Sue meet his eyes.  'You're not bad-looking when you're mad,' he said insolently.  A backhanded compliment if Sue had ever heard one, and yet, against her will, she felt a small thrill of pleasure."
(It's important to mention that it was previously described that Jigger has "dark, crisp hair.")  Sue gets back on the horse, learns to curry horses, and watches the gentle blacksmith shoe a feisty horse. She goes fishing with Poke and discovers a kindred book reader, but still has prickly relations with Jigger and Missy.  She's homesick, but for her parents' sake, she tries to fit in and writes charming letters to her father about her adventures.  Jigger and Missy urge her to learn to jump on her horse, but Sue is afraid and refuses.  She goes with the family to a gymkhana and competes in a few contests, and manages to control her horse when he is spooked and runs away.  Still afraid to jump, she overhears the Ballantines skeptically discussing whether she's learn to jump:
"'All right!' she whispered with her back against the bedroom door.  'I'll show you!  You just wait!'  And her eyes, stormy and resolute, rested for an instant on the little pine night table, where she had recently placed as an ornament Aunt Suzanna's silver spurs."
One day, when the family is away, Sue decides to try jumping on her own.  It's all going well, until her horse doesn't make it over a fence and is badly hurt.  She calls the kindly blacksmith and owns up to her mistake to the Ballantines.  Luckily, the horse will recover and she continues to learn jumping with the family.  After the month is up, she goes home changed.  Instead of moping around the house, she dusts and makes dinner for her mother and herself.  Her father has a new enthusiasm as he's started turning Sue's letters into a children's book. AND, Sue invites Jigger (by letter, no less) to a dinner party and he accepts!

One of Betty Cavanna's strongest gifts is her characterization.  Sue has so many layers--sophisticated and assured in the city, ill at ease at first in the country and with a growing insight into how her actions and feelings affect others.  In addition, Cavanna creates such strong characters in Sue's working mother, her invalid (but still vital) father, and all of the Ballantines.  Even though the story is simple (girl goes to a horse farm and learns about life), Cavanna manages to make it a deeply textured one that is still relevant over sixty years later.