Ellen Tebbits

Ellen Tebbits

4.4 31
by Beverly Cleary

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Ellen was eight years old and wore bands on her teeth. Her best friend had just moved away and she missed her. Still, as she walked to the Spofford School of the Dance one Saturday, she was almost glad she had no best friend. Best friends do not have secrets from each other, and Ellen had a secret she did not want to share with anyone. But by the time the


Ellen was eight years old and wore bands on her teeth. Her best friend had just moved away and she missed her. Still, as she walked to the Spofford School of the Dance one Saturday, she was almost glad she had no best friend. Best friends do not have secrets from each other, and Ellen had a secret she did not want to share with anyone. But by the time the dancing lesson was over (surely the most devastating dancing lesson on record), Ellen had found a best friend and shared her secret. The best friend was Austine, and the secret was that Ellen was wearing woolen underwear. So was Austine!

This whole book is a cause for rejoicing, for Mrs. Cleary has done it again. Ellen Tebbits is as funny as Henry Huggins. Perhaps it is even funnier. The children who read it will decide for themselves. Louis Darling, who has provided the wonderful illustrations, has already made his decision. He calls it a draw.

Editorial Reviews

New York Herald Tribune
Ellen and her troubles are both funny and touching; we meet her trying to hide her long underwear at dancing school, and playing a substitute rat in `The Pied Piper.' All is told with a downright realism, and the school scenes are choice.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Beverly Cleary's delightful peek into a young girl's life (Morrow, 1951) will capture a new audience in audiobook format. Listeners will giggle at third-grader Ellen's trials with both woolen underwear and her nemesis, Otis Spofford. They will sympathize with Ellen's desire to clap erasers, and her travails in acquiring a giant beet. Then there's the whole concept of being a "substitute rat." Through it all, Ellen's friendship with Austine, and their quarrel and eventual reconciliation provide the thread that ties all the events together. You can't listen to this production without laughing out loud. Andrea Martin reads Cleary's text with expression and good humor, creating unique voices for each character. She brings Ellen and her friends to life and makes them shine. Listeners will enjoy the small joys, horrors, and triumphs that make Ellen's life so like their own.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Saturday Review
“Through all Ellen’s joys and sorrows runs a thread of humor that makes the reader chuckle even when he is sympathizing with her.”
The Horn Book
“Ellen is a real girl and her adventures are full of zest and interest!”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Ellen & Otis Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 7.47(h) x 0.51(d)
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Ellen Tebbits MOB

Chapter One

Ellen's Secret

Ellen Tebbitswas in a hurry. As she ran down Tillamook Street with her ballet slippers tucked under her arm, she did not even stop to scuff through the autumn leaves on the sidewalk. The reason Ellen was in a hurry was a secret she would never, never tell.

Ellen was a thin little girl, with dark hair and brown eyes. She wore bands on her teeth, and her hair was scraggly on the left side of her face, because she spent so much time reading and twisting a lock of hair around her finger as she read. She had no brothers or sisters and, since Nancy Jane had moved away from next door, there was no one her own age living on Tillamook Street.

So she had no really best friend. She did not even have a dog or cat to play with, because her mother said animals tracked in mud and left hair on the furniture.

Of course Ellen had lots of friends at school, but that was not the same as having a best friend who lived in the same neighborhood and could come over to play after school and on Saturdays. Today, however, Ellen was almost glad she did not have a best friend, because best friends do not have secrets from one another. She was sure she would rather be lonely the rest of her life than share the secret of why she had to get to her dancing class before any of the other girls.

The Spofford School of the Dance was upstairs over the Payless Drugstore. When Ellen came to the entrance at the side of the building, she paused to look anxiously up and down the street. Then, relieved that she saw no one she knew, she scampered up the long flight of steps as fast as she could run. Therewas not a minute to waste.

She pushed open the door and looked quickly around the big, bare room. Maybe her plan was really going to work after all. She was the first pupil to arrive.

Ellen's teacher, Valerie Todd Spofford, was looking at some music with Mrs. Adams, the accompanist, at the piano in the comer of the room.

She was really Mrs. John Spofford and had a son named Otis, who was in Ellen's room at school. Because she taught dancing, people did not call her Mrs. John Spofford. They called her by her full name, Valerie Todd Spofford.

"Good afternoon, Ellen," she said. "You're early."

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Spofford," answered Ellen, and hurried past the long mirrors that covered one wall.

When Ellen opened the dressing-room door, she made a terrible discovery. Someone was in the dressing room ahead of her.

Austine Allen was sitting on a bench lacing her ballet slippers. Austine was a new girl, both in the dancing class and in Ellen's room at school. Ellen knew she had just come 'from California, because she mentioned it so often. She thought the new girl looked good-natured and untidy, but she really had not paid much attention to her.

"Oh," said Ellen. "Hello. I didn't know anyone was here."

I guess I'm early," said Austine and then added, "but so are you."

The girls looked at each other. Ellen noticed that Austine had already changed into the required costume of the Spofford School of the Dance. This was a short full skirt of tulle gathered onto a sateen top that had straps over the shoulders. Austine looked chubby in her green costume.

Neither girl spoke. Oh, why doesn't she leave, thought Ellen desperately. Maybe if I wait long enough she'll go into the other room. Ellen removed her jacket as slowly as she could. No, I canwait. The others will be here any minute.

This is a silly costume we have to wear , said Austine. "When I took ballet lessons in California we always wore shorts and T shirts."

"Well, I think it's pretty" said Ellen, as she took her pink costume from the rack along the wall. Why don't you go away, she thought. She said, "It's almost like real ballerinas wear. When I'm wearing it, I pretend I'm a real dancer."

Austine stood up. "Not even real ballerinas practice in full skirts like these. They wear leotards. In California..."

"Well, I think leotards are ugly," interrupted Ellen, who was glad she knew that leotards were long tight-fitting garments. "They look just like long underwear and I wouldn't wear one for anything. I like our dresses better."

"I don't," said Austine flatly. I don't even like dancing lessons. At least in California.

"I don't care what anybody does in California," said Ellen crossly. "I'm tired of hearing you talk about California and so is everyone at school. So there! If you think California is so wonderful, why don't you go back there?"

For a second Austine looked hurt. Ellen almost thought she was going to cry. Instead she made a face. "All right for you!"' she said, and flounced out of the dressing room, leaving her clothes in an untidy heap on the bench.

Instantly Ellen was sorry. What a terrible thing to say to a new girl! What if she herself were a new girl and someone had said that to her? How would she have felt? She hadn't really meant to be rude,, but somehow it had slipped out. She was so anxious to have Austine leave that she had not thought about what she was saying.

But now that Austine was gone and Ellen was alone, there was not a moment to waste, not even in feeling sorry for what she had done. Feverishly she unbuttoned her sweater. She was starting to unfasten her dress when she heard some of the girls coming through the classroom.

Frantically Ellen looked around the dressing room for a place to hide. She darted behind the costume rack. No, that wouldn't do. The girls might see her when they took down their costumes...

Ellen Tebbits MOB
. Copyright © by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Beverly Cleary is one of America's most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, Oregon, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children's books when she grew up.

Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, "Where are the books about kids like us?" she remembered her teacher's encouragement and was inspired to write the books she'd longed to read but couldn't find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born!

Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. Dear Mr. Henshaw won the Newbery Medal, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.

Tracy Dockray is a fine artist and illustrator who has contributed to more than twenty illustrated books, including the bestselling Grimm's Grimmest, Delia at the Delano, and all of Beverly Cleary's highly popular children's books, most notably Ramona. A member of the Society of Illustrators, she holds an MFA from Pratt and lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Carmel, California
Date of Birth:
April 12, 1916
Place of Birth:
McMinnville, Oregon
B.A., University of California-Berkeley, 1938; B.A. in librarianship, University of Washington (Seattle), 1939

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Ellen Tebbits 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ellen Tebbits is a third grade school girl who finally finds a best friend in Austine Allen, the new student in her class who has moved from California, primarily because the two share a terrible secret. In fact, the two become such close companions that they decide to dress as twins on the first day of fourth grade. Unfortunately, Mrs. Allen is not nearly as good a seamstress as Mrs. Tebbits, and Austine's dress looks terrible. The two argue about it, and thinking that Austine has untied her sash, Ellen slaps Austine in the face. Ellen wants desperately to be Austine's friend again and later finds out that it was actually Otis Spofford who untied her sash, but she is too proud to apologize to Austine. Will the two ever be able to make up? I have read many of Beverly Cleary's books for children, and I will try to be honest. I really liked the three books about Ralph Mouse. The books about Henry Huggins are fairly good. The books about Ramona Quimby, two of which were Newbery Honor books, are, in my estimation, not as good, but they are still all right and probably appeal more to girls than boys. I did not care for the only book for which Clearly won the Newbery Award, Dear Mr. Henshaw. Personally, I thought that it was depressing, but a lot of people have found it useful. However, I did enjoy reading Ellen Tebbits. It presents a realistic picture of elementary school life and deals sensitively with some issues that children of that age face, yet is written in an interesting style that will capture the fancy of young readers.
Mattie604 More than 1 year ago
When I read this book, I was way above the age level. But I still enjoyed the novel. The book is about Ellen Tebbits, a well-mannered perfectionist starting third grade. While attending ballet class, she discovers an embarrassing secret about another student, Austine. Ellen also has the same secret, and the two become the best of friends. Then, Ellen makes a terrible mistake she must fix. For stingy children, they can relate to Ellen¿s remorse and unwillingness to formally apologize to Austine. The book was relatable to me, even at age ten. The incidents Ellen goes through- accidentally getting in trouble, ducking bullying from a boy in her class, and struggling to find a secure best friend that will share her interests- even applies to a middle-schoolers. This was a wonderful read, and even though I¿m too old for it, I¿m never too old to laugh at its antics. If you are looking for a hilarious, relatable, easy novel written by a familiar author like Beverly Cleary, buy this book now!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book especially for girls in between 8 and 10. I loved it when I was younger and I can understand how some people may think that it is boring or old fashioned, but hey, it kind of is an old fashioned book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book intersting but kind of boring. I mean WOOL underwear ....... really
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading these Beverly Cleary books in school getting them off the Bookmobile or at the little store that had books to lend. Another time long ago now I entertain my grands with her always good books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is not judy blume it is beaverly cleary
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the best book I ever read and I've read a lot of books! Beverly Cleary is the best auther EVER!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book!! So read it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great it really is!!!! I just starting reading it and its great so far. Well im over the age level but who cares it is still the best book i read on my nook!! Wow i would really request this book for grades 3-4 its great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One word. AMAZING!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book ever did not tell us about tjis book it rocks
Nancy Grady More than 1 year ago
She cared and a great novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Abdulkadir Issa More than 1 year ago
wow its the best book on earth
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutly adored this novel. With a 5 star average, you should read it too. I have read it 4 times and I never get tired of it. This story is funny from begining to end and made me cry of laughter. You can relate to Elen so well and deffinatley name a few 'Otises' from school or your neighborhood. Can't go wrong with Cleary, one of my all time favorite comidy authors. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book I read when I was nine or ten and I read it to my almost-nine-year-old daughter when she was seven. In places we laughed so hard we had to quit reading for a few minutes. She has since read it to herself and it is her favorite book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cleary out did herself on this book. I read it so many times before i could even take it back to the library. I'd recomend it to anyone who like Cleary Books.