Emily's Runaway Imagination

Emily's Runaway Imagination

4.3 28
by Beverly Cleary

View All Available Formats & Editions

Adventure is pretty scarce in tiny Pitchfork, Oregon. So why shouldn't Emily bleach Dad's old plow horse?


Adventure is pretty scarce in tiny Pitchfork, Oregon. So why shouldn't Emily bleach Dad's old plow horse?

Editorial Reviews

Association of Children's Literature
Emily's adventures make the book as freshly funny as Henry Huggins.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Emily is vividly real.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Upon picking up this classic tale from Beverly Cleary, the adult selector will undoubtedly wonder whether the intended cyber-generation recipient will be able to relate to either Emily or her imagination. The answer--an unequivocal, "Yes!" Good writing proves to be timeless, and Beverly Cleary is a good writer. The Emily of this story lives in a small town at a time when cars are relatively new, times are financially tough, and distasteful food is eaten because Armenians are starving. Pre-teen Emily romps through these difficulties with the help of her devoted parents, big-hearted neighbors, city-dwelling cousins, and adventuresome grandparents. Each chapter recounts an episode in young Emily's summer; and all together the episodes create the story of how Emily and her mother bring a public library to their small town of Pitchfork, Oregon. Here, there are laughs to be shared and feelings to be identified with for the most modern of today's young readers. Plus, there's a plug for libraries! What could be bad? 2000 (orig. 1961), HarperCollins Children's Books, Ages 8 to 12, $15.89 and $4.99. Reviewer: Judy Katsh—Children's Literature
Children's Literature - Heidi Sohng
Young Emily Bartlett lives in a farmhouse in the sleepy town of Pitchfork, Oregon, at a time when automobiles are new inventions. Being the only child of hard-working parents, Emily is responsible and honest, aiming to please around the farm. However, it is spring and she's at the age of discoveries, thus she has a "runaway imagination" and a penchant for getting into matters way over her head. Emily has big goals, like getting the town its first library. She is spurred on by the envy of her cousin Muriel from the city, who has a ton of books to read. Emily often finds herself getting into hilarious yet innocent predicaments. For example, once when Muriel visits, Emily tries to impress her by bleaching the farmhorse white. Another time, during her mother's fancy luncheon, Emily feeds the pigs rotten apples, accidentally making them drunk. Everything always turns out okay in the end for Emily, though. This is a warm, funny and family-centered book about the strength of a girl's belief (despite the odds) and of dreams coming true. Reviewer: Heidi Sohng

Product Details

Harpercollins Childrens Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Emily's Runaway Imagination MSR
Chapter One
Emily Goes to the Post Office

The things that happened to Emily Bartlett that year!

It seemed to Emily that it all began one bright spring day, a day meant for adventure. The weather was so warm Mama had let her take off her long stockings and put on her half socks for the first time since last fall. Breezes on her knees after a winter of stockings always made Emily feel as frisky as a spring lamb. The field that Emily could see from the kitchen window had turned blue with wild forget-me-nots and down in the pasture the trees, black silhouettes trimmed with abandoned bird nests throughout the soggy winter, were suddenly turning green.

Everywhere sap was rising, and Emily felt as if it was rising in her, too. This made it difficult for her to sit still long enough to write to her cousin Muriel, who lived in Portland and had so many wonderful things—things like fleece-lined bedroom slippers with kittens on the toes, cement sidewalks to roller skate on, and a public library full of books.

"Finish your letter, Emily," said Mama, who was scrubbing out milk pans at the kitchen sink while the washing machine churned away on the back porch. "Then you can take it to the post office."

Emily looked up from her letter. "Mama, I just know something wonderful is going to happen today," she said. "I can feel it in my bones."

Mama laughed. "Adventure is pretty scarce here in Pitchfork. I think your imagination is running away with you."

Mama often said this and whenever she did, Emily could just see herself hanging on for dear life in a buggy pulled pell-mell down Main Street by a frightened horse,the way a horse once ran away with Mama when she first came out West to teach school. All Mama's hairpins came out, her long black hair came tumbling down around her shoulders, and by the time someone stopped the horse she was a sight. Emily was always sorry she could not have been there to see the horse run away with Mama the way her imagination was supposed to run away with her.

Emily read Muriel's letter once more.

Dear Emily,
This week I went to the library. I got Black Beauty. It is about a horse. It is the best book I ever read. I read it three times. I have to go now. Write soon.

Yours truly,

P.S. Mama sends her love.

It was not an easy letter to answer. Muriel was always writing about the library books she read—books like Heidi and Toby Tyler, which Emily had never even seen. Aunt Irene, Muriel's mother, said Muriel was a regular little bookworm.

Emily did not envy Muriel the fleece-lined bedroom slippers or the cement sidewalk for roller skating, but she did envy her that library. She longed to be a bookworm, although she did not think she would care to be called one. Unfortunately, the town of Pitchfork, Oregon, did not have a library. Oh, there were things to read—the Burgess Bedtime Story in the newspaper, Elson Reader Book IV, and the Sunday-school paper, but none of these qualified Emily to be a bookworm. Emily was not lucky like Muriel, who could ride a streetcar downtown to a big library full of hundreds, even thousands, of books, although of course Emily was lucky in other ways.

Emily was lucky because of Mama, who right now was sitting down to rest her feet while the washing machine did its work out on the back porch, Mama was so little she always wore high heels, even though she had a great big house to take care of. Tap-tap-tap went her heels all day long. Once, three years ago, during the war, when Mama had been an Honor Guard girl and had marched in a parade to get people to buy Liberty Bonds, she had lost one of her heels right in the middle of the parade, but that did not stop Mama. She had marched tap-bump, tap-bump all the way down Main Street to help sell Liberty Bonds. Mama had spunk.

It was funny about Mama's being so small, because Daddy was big and strong and handsome. Once when he was just out of high school, some men came out from Portland and told Daddy he should be a prize fighter, but, Daddy said, no, thank you, he would rather be a farmer. This was lucky, because sometimes when Emily got into an argument with one of the girls at school, she settled it by saying, "My father could have been a prize fighter if he'd wanted to, but he didn't want to. So there!"

Emily was lucky in her ancestors, too. They had been pioneers, and whenever things were hard, Mama always said, "Remember your pioneer ancestors." Emily had always liked the stories of their trip across the plains in their covered wagons. Now Emily's pioneer ancestors were all dead and buried in the weedy little cemetery called Mountain Rest, but she did have Grandpa and Grandma Slater, Mama's parents, right here in Pitchfork.

Emily was lucky in many ways. She was lucky in the house she lived in, a house with three balconies, a cupola, banisters just right for sliding down, and the second bathtub in Yamhill County. Emily did not know who owned the first bathtub, but having the second bathtub was still pretty important. It showed that their house, known as the old Bartlett place, was very old.

Emily's Runaway Imagination MSR
. 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

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Emily's Runaway Imagination 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever tried to make a difference somewhere, but you have to try so hard that it almost seems impossible? Emily is a girl who lives in Pitchfork,Oregon it is a time where automobiles had just been invented, and you were lucky if you had a library around. Well that's what Emily wants. She is trying to figure out how to bring a library to her small town city. Her imagination leads her to do all sorts of crazy things on her way. Will she ever get the library she has dreamed of having for so long? If you have a runaway imagination just like Emily, and want to make a difference to someone somewhere, I would reccommend this book for you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the middle of it but Beverly Cleary could do better.
Jessica Creason More than 1 year ago
Its a good book, but i dont think its teen fiction. i read it in 3rd grade. -Jessica 6th grade
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 12 and I still love ths book. You are not a TRUE book reader until ALL of Beverly Clearys books. This one is one of the best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever! I am on chapter seven and its awesome i highly recommwnd it! PEACE!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love B.C. this is a great book but just to warn you its for kids 2-4th grade its a very easy read and it in the mind of a little girl.
Chloe Poulich More than 1 year ago
This book was so intresting I love Beverly Cleary
jim tsai More than 1 year ago
It is a awesome book how Beverky Cleary wrote it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prince after a certain incindent is "stuck on" the name "Plince".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this when it was read to me as a little girl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No words for it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do not write bad words in posts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago