Jean and Johnny

Jean and Johnny

4.0 23
by Beverly Cleary, Joe Krush, Beth Krush

View All Available Formats & Editions

Despite her family's warning about chasing the handsome Johnny Chessler, Jean Jarrett has to learn from experience the perils of a one-sided romance, in a bittersweet story of first love.  See more details below


Despite her family's warning about chasing the handsome Johnny Chessler, Jean Jarrett has to learn from experience the perils of a one-sided romance, in a bittersweet story of first love.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Jean Jarrett has never been one to attract a lot of attention. When Johnny, a popular senior, asks her to dance, Jean becomes obsessed with him. While Johnny seems like he might be interested, people keep telling her not to chase after him. Johnny will do things like say he is going to come over. Then, after Jean has gone to a lot of trouble with her family to arrange the house just right, he calls and says he will not be able to come after all. Jean cannot help but compare her relationship with Johnny to the budding relationship her sister Sue has with Kenneth. When Jean asks Johnny to go with her to the Girls' Assocation Dance, he agrees. Jean is very happy at first, but as time goes on, she begins to wonder if Johnny really does like her or just finds her amusing to have around. While some of the plot elements are certainly outdated for today's teen, the book does have a message that translates well for modern girls: do not waste your time on someone who is not that in to you. Jean is a very realistic girl, even by today's standards. Yet another example of Cleary's work that, on the surface, may seem outdated; yet it continues to have relevance for today's youth. The book was considered Young Adult when it was first published; now it would be better suited for middle grade.
Children's Literature
The notion of first love is one that most young people imagine and romanticize. Jean Jarrett is no exception. Jean is thrown into the dating arena totally unprepared. After she meets the most popular boy in school, Johnny, her transformation begins. Jean wants to change everything, from her appearance to her age, in an attempt to win Johnny's attention. Jean finds out that sometimes things aren't always the way they appear. Although this delightful rite of passage book was originally written in 1959, Cleary's portrayal of "first love" is timeless and is sure to entertain today's young teens. 1996 (orig. 1959), Avon Books, $4.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Rita Karr

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.73(w) x 8.28(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Jean and Johnny AER
Chapter One

"I have the funniest feeling," remarked Jean Jarrett, who was drying the supper dishes while her older sister Sue washed them. "I keep feeling as if something nice is going to happen."

"That's because this is the first night of Christmas vacation," answered Sue, rinsing a plate under the hotwater faucet and setting it in the dish drainer.

"I suppose so," agreed Jean dreamily, wishing that something nice really would happen. Lately life had lacked interesting ups and downs. Oh, there were little ups like watching Kip Laddish on television, just as there were little downs, too, like the plaid skirt she was wearing. Because she had forgotten to allow extra material for matching the plaid, she discovered, when the pieces of the skirt were sewed together, that the stripes were uneven at every seam. Little ups, little downs-how she wished she could replace them with big ups and downs that would make life exciting.

"What would you like to happen?" asked Sue.

"Oh, I don't know exactly," answered Jean. There was a speck of food on the plate she was wiping. She considered returning the plate to the dishwater for Sue to rewash, thought better of it, and polished off the speck with the dish towel. When it was her turn to wash dishes, she did not like to have dishes returned to her dishwater. "It would be nice to grow a couple more inches, and not have to wear glasses; but at fifteen I don't suppose that will happen. Maybe something like a cable arriving saying that a long-lost uncle has died and left us a fortune. "

"That would be nice," agreed Sue. "He could be a terribly romantic figure, a family black sheep we had nevereven heard of, who had run away at the age of fourteen to Kenya or Bangkok and made his fortune in diamonds or teak or something."

"Or maybe it would be better if he had run away to the South Seas," elaborated Jean. "He could be a pearl king with crews of natives with knives in their teeth diving for oysters."

"Oh, well," said Sue. "How he got the fortune isn't important. What is important is that he died and left it to the Jarretts."

"It wouldn't even have to be a fortune," said Jean. "Just enough so we could have avocado in the salad every single day. And so I could walk into Northgate Apparel Shop just once and buy a plaid skirt with the stripes matched by somebody else."

Sue laughed. "I know what you mean. Money for little extra things. Oh, well," she said, with an airy wave of the dishcloth, "what are the material things in life? We have ingenuity."

Jean giggled. "Especially me. It takes real ingenuity to make such a terrible-looking skirt."

It was Sue who had the ingenuity. Right now she was wearing a skirt she had devised out of twelve red bandana handkerchiefs that she had bought at the dime store. With it she was wearing a white blouse she had made out of a remnant and trimmed with a yard of leftover rickrack. Jean remembered how Sue had schemed, rearranging her pattern several times, to get the blouse out of the short length of material. Even two years ago, when Sue was fifteen, she would have remembered to allow extra material for matching plaid. Sue was that kind of girl: she always knew what she wanted to do and then went about it in the right way.

Both girls were silent, each thinking of nice things they would like to have happen. Sue was right, Jean thought. Money for little extra things was a problem. House payments, life insurance, hospital insurance, money put aside for Sue's freshman year at the University next fall (their father said his girls were going to have a better start in life than he had had), a small check to help their grandmother in the East — all these seemed to consume Mr. Jarrett's pay check almost as soon as he received it. It would help if their father would allow them to earn money baby-sitting someplace besides the two houses next door, but he would notnot since the Friday night some strangers down the street had engaged Sue to stay with their children and had not come home until two-thirty in the morning. Mr. Jarrett, who was a mailman and had to report to the post office at six o'clock in the morning, said he lost too much sleep worrying about Sue in a strange house being responsible for strange children. Kids could get into the darnedest trouble, Mr. Jarrett said. He ought to know. He had seen enough of it in his nineteen years of delivering mail. If his girls were going to baby-sit, they had to do it close to home, where he knew what was going on. Unfortunately for Jean and Sue, their next-door neighbors did not often go out.

Or it would be nice, Jean reflected, if her mother won a really big prize in one of the contests she was always entering — a prize so big she could give up her Saturday job as a salesclerk in a shop called Fabrics, Etc., which, sold remnants and mill ends of dress, drapery, and upholstery material.

"I know what would be nice," said Sue suddenly.

"What?" asked Jean, glancing at the clock. She must not get so carried away in daydreams that she missed Kip Laddish.

"To meet a boy." Sue's voice was wistful. "Not just any boy, but a really nice boy who liked me."

"Yes, that would be nice," agreed Jean seriously, because she understood that this time Sue was not joking. She was a little surprised at her sister's wish, because Sue had never been interested in the boys who seemed to like her. "But what about Cliff?" Jean asked. "He phoned you a couple of times, but you wouldn't go out with him."

Jean and Johnny AER
. Copyright © by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Read More

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.

Read More

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 >