Monday, April 11, 2016

MG Realistic Fiction: Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Clearly

9644879Ellen Tebbits (Ellen and Otis #1) by Beverly Cleary  
Format:  Paperback
Publisher: Avon Camelot
Number of Pages: 160
Published:  July 1st 1990 (first published 1951)

Source: Library
Genre:   MG Realistic Fiction
Opening Line: "Ellen Tebbits was in a hurry."

Sometimes saying sorry is harder than it seems ...
"Ellen Tebbits is convinced she'll die of embarrassment if any of the girls at school discover her secret. But then she meets Austine Allen, a new girl in class who's hiding the very same secret. Instantly, the two become best friends. They do everything together, from clapping erasers to riding horses. Ellen quickly learns that embarrassing secrets and pesky troublemakers like Otis Spofford aren't so bad when you have someone special to stick up for you. But then Ellen does something terrible that makes Austine stop speaking to her. Will she ever be able to prove how sorry she is?"
To wish Beverly Cleary happy 100th birthday (on April 12th), the Goodreads group Kindred Spirit decided to read one of my favorite Beverly Clearly books growing up, Ellen Tebbits.  Hope you stop by and join us in the discussion.  I read Ellen Tebbits over and over, until the edges of the book were so dog eared and the cover started to come off the spine.  I really identified with Ellen growing up, especially her desire to have a best friend that she could share all of her secrets with.  Being an Army brat and middle child, I grew up pretty lonely most of the time.  Sure there were plenty of kids around, I even had my two sisters, but just as you get to know someone, we had to move again.  And with one sister being five years older and the other four years younger, you were either to young or to old to play with.  It really wasn't until ninth grade that I first met my " forever best friend." It was at the time where my dad retired and we started to what I like to call "put down roots." Like Ellen, we both worried about what other people thought of us.  Me for wearing hand-me downs, Ellen cause her underwear bunched in the middle during dance class.  This also happens to be one of my favorite scenes.  I'm probably  setting myself up to be the black-sheep on this one, but I always loved the scene where Ellen is in ballet class trying to do the warm ups and Otis is imitating her movements.  Otis is meant to be seen as teasing Ellen, but he never says anything to her.  He just moves like she does, hitching and leaping and clutching.   For Ellen this is terrifying, because she doesn't want those bunching underwear to slide.   Yet, I couldn't get the image of Otis in his spurs, and double barrels of guns at his hips out of my mind.  It's kinda ridiculous that he is trying to do ballet in spurs, but somehow also funny to me.  Yes, I feel horrible for Ellen, who must be mortified, but he is quite something.  Secretly, I always imagined that he was kinda jealous of all the attention that the girls got from his mother, and perhaps what he wanted was to join in on the dance and not necessarily tease Ellen.  But, I'm pretty sure Otis is well known for his teasing.  Re-reading Ellen Tebbits made me a little nervous at first.  You know will your favorite hold up?  And happily for me it does.   Ellen does make a terrible mistake with her new friend, for which she eventually makes amends for and Austine is such a wonderful girl that you can't help but love.    Ellen Tebbits was also a lovely trip down memory lane to a time where you can walk two houses over to a friends house, ride your bike into town, go out for an ice cream cone, or even like in Ellen's case clap erasers with your best friend.   I'll be picking up Otis Spofford and Ramona to read next.  
I think most people are more familiar with Ramona even Henry Huggins.  Ramona certainly has more books written about her.  Did you ever get to read Ellen Tebbits growing up? Or do you have a favorite book by Beverly Clearly?  Feel free to leave a comment.      

1 comment:

  1. Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Cleary is the book that set me on my path to reading. I still have my original copy. It is such a wonderful book! Thank you for sharing, and happy birthday to a brilliant writer. Beverly Cleary pretty much shaped by childhood. :) ~ Jess