Busybody Nora

Busybody Nora

by Johanna Hurwitz, Debbie Tilley, Debbie Tilley

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"What is your name?"

That's what Nora asks her neighbors as she rides up and down the elevator of her apartment house. She doesn't mean to be a busybody. She just wants to be like doorman Henry and know all the people in her building—all 200 of them! And then one day Nora gets a great idea: they'll have a giant party, for everyone in the building!


"What is your name?"

That's what Nora asks her neighbors as she rides up and down the elevator of her apartment house. She doesn't mean to be a busybody. She just wants to be like doorman Henry and know all the people in her building—all 200 of them! And then one day Nora gets a great idea: they'll have a giant party, for everyone in the building!

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In this early chapter book, six-year-old Nora and younger brother Teddy have adventures in their New York apartment building. She is eager to learn everyone's name in the building and begins asking, "What is your name?" every time she rides the elevator. Thus, the title of the book. Other episodes include making stone soup with neighbors' contributions, a mix-up that results in Nora serving as a babysitter for a day and a delightful story that grandpa tells about his role in the Jack and the Beanstalk tale. Nora's wish to have a giant party with all the residents of the apartment building occurs in the final episode, when they attempt to persuade Mrs. Wurmbrand's daughter from Ohio that New York City is a friendly place to live. Nora's pluck and the six family stories make for an appealing read. The black-and-white drawings are lively and support the text. As one of the books in the "Riverside Kids" series, it delivers simple but satisfying stories for the developing reader in the early primary grades. 2001 (orig. 1976), HarperTrophy, . Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Jacki Vawter

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Riverside Kids Series
Edition description:
First Harper Trophy Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.19(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Two hundred people lived in the same house with Nora and her brother, Teddy.

Their home was an apartment building in New York City near Riverside Drive. The building had eight floors, and there were five apartments on each floor. Some apartment buildings are much, much larger, but this one was large enough.

Nobody had ever counted all the people, but Nora had once told her mother, "A million people live in our building."

Mommy had corrected her. "Not a million, but maybe two hundred," she said. That number was big enough; it fascinated Nora and stuck in her head.

She liked to imagine the other people in the building. It was funny to think about 199 other people all brushing their teeth at the same time. Or 199 other people all putting slices of bread in their toasters. Or 199 other people turning out the light to go to sleep.

Yet even though they lived in the same building, and she had been there all her life, which was five years going on six, Nora hadn't seen all the people. She knew all the dog owners because they often rode in the elevator with their pets and took these pets for walks along the street in front of the house. Nora and Teddy counted seven different dogs in their building: two dachshunds, a poodle, a German shepherd, and three mutts. Their favorite dog was a mutt named Putzi, who could carry a small bag of groceries in her mouth for her owner. Nora and Teddy knew the names of all of the dogs and greeted them whenever they saw them. Someday they hoped they would have a dog too.

"Or how about an alligator?" asked Teddy.

"An alligator!" Mommy gasped, the first time he suggested it. "Wherewould we put an alligator?"

"In the bathtub, of course," answered Teddy.

"If we had an alligator," said Mommy, "we probably wouldn't have very many friends."

They had some very special friends who lived in the building. There was Mrs. Wurmbrand, who had lived in the building since before Mommy and Daddy were born. Now Mrs. Wurmbrand was over eighty years old. She often came in the evening to have coffee and to visit with Mommy. She always brought chocolates for Nora and Teddy. She was like an extra grandmother, even more real than their other grandmothers, because she had white hair and she looked old the way grandmothers always looked in books. They called her Mrs. W. for short.

Once, when he was little, Teddy asked Mommy if there was a Mrs. A. and a Mrs. B. and a Mrs. C. There wasn't even a Mr. W. He had died many years before. But Mrs. W., whose grown children lived in a faraway city, said that she considered Nora and Teddy and their parents to be her family too.

Once an apartment became vacant. Nora hoped more children would move into it. But instead the new neighbors were a man and a woman with no children. Not even a dog.

Luckily they still had their friend Russell, who was only two and who lived on the second floor.,

"Maybe when he is three, he will move to the third floor," said Teddy.

Russell was eleven months younger than Teddy, so for one month both boys were the same age. But then Teddy got ahead again. Russell was too little to care, anyhow. Teddy, though, liked being a year older and could not understand why for a whole month he -had been the same age as little Russell.

What bothered Nora was that she didn't know the names of all the people. Henry, the doorman, whose job it was to stand in the lobby and open the door for the tenants, knew everybody's name. Nora listened with amazement when she heard him.

"How did you learn all the names?" she once asked him.

"It's from seeing the same faces over and over again," Henry explained. "I've seen you every day since you were born practically, so it would be pretty hard to forget your name."

"I guess you know me as well as my mommy and daddy," said Nora.

"Me too," said Teddy.

"How can I learn everyone's name Nora" asked her mother.

"You'll just have to ask them, I suppose," answered Mommy.

And to her mother's surprise and also to the surprise of all their neighbors, that is exactly what Nora did.

Whenever they got into the elevator to ride up or down from their seventh-floor apartment and another person was present, Nora would ask, "What is your name?"

Some people would smile and tell their name and ask Nora what her name was too. Others would pretend to ignore her and her question. One cross woman, carrying a heavy bag of groceries, just glared at Nora and said, "Mrs. Mind-Your-Own-Business."

Nora looked at the he woman with astonishment. Is that really your name?" she asked.

"Hush!" Mommy said to Nora.

Just then the grocery bag tore, and cans of soup and juice spilled onto the elevator floor. Nora quickly bent to help pick up the food. Her head bumped into the bent head of Mrs. Mind-Your-Own-Business, so instead of saying "Thank you," the woman said "Ouch!" And then she muttered, "You little busybody!"

The elevator stopped at their floor, and Mommy pulled Nora by the hand before she could say anything more. Afterward Nora always called the woman by that whole long name, Mrs. Mind-Your-Own-Business, but not to her face, of course.

Some days Mommy said she found it too embarrassing to ride in the elevator down from the seventh floor with Nora acting like a special investigator from the FBI.

"Who is that?" asked Nora. "What apartment does he live in?"

For many weeks, Nora asked people their names. Some of the names she learned were those of deliverymen, a postman named Tom with a registered letter, and an insurance salesman. Others were relatives and friends of the other tenants...

Meet the Author

Johanna Hurwitz is the award-winning author of more than sixty popular books for young readers, including Faraway Summer; Dear Emma; Elisa Michaels, Bigger & Better; Class Clown; Fourth-Grade Fuss; and Rip-Roaring Russell, an American Library Association Notable Book. Her work has won many child-chosen state awards. A former school librarian, she frequently visits schools around the country to talk about her books. Mrs. Hurwitz and her husband divide their time between Great Neck, New York, and Wilmington, Vermont.

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