Otis Spofford

Otis Spofford

4.6 13
by Beverly Cleary, Tracy Dockray, Louis Darling

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When it comes to stirring up a little excitement in class, Otis Spofford knows just what to do. He can turn a folk dance fiesta into a three-ring circus, or an arithmetic lesson into a spitball marathon. Even his friends George and Stewy can't keep up when it comes to Otis's mischief.

Best of all, Otis likes teasing Ellen Tebbits. She's so neat and


When it comes to stirring up a little excitement in class, Otis Spofford knows just what to do. He can turn a folk dance fiesta into a three-ring circus, or an arithmetic lesson into a spitball marathon. Even his friends George and Stewy can't keep up when it comes to Otis's mischief.

Best of all, Otis likes teasing Ellen Tebbits. She's so neat and well-behaved—there's something irresistible about making Ellen mad! But when Otis's teasing goes too far, he feels sorry . . . and then nervous. For now Ellen isn't just mad . . . she's planning something!

Beloved author Beverly Cleary brings real understanding to this wonderful story of a "bad boy."

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
“Mrs. Cleary writes from a sure knowledge of the third grader’s world. It all rings true.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Ellen & Otis Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.65(w) x 8.31(h) x 0.82(d)
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Otis Spofford MSR

Chapter One

There was nothing Otis Spofford liked better than stirring up a little excitement. Otis was a medium-sized boy with reddish-brown hair, freckles, and ears that stuck out. He often wore a leather jacket with a rabbit's foot tied to the zipper, and be always laced his shoes with the kind of laces that glow in the dark-pink for the right shoe and green for the left.

Otis found it hard to stir up any excitement around home. He was sure it would be easier if he lived in a house with a yard to play in, like the other boys and girls in Room Eleven at Rosemont School. Instead, he lived with his mother, Valerie Todd Spofford, in an apartment. Mrs. Spofford was away from home most of the time teaching ballet and tap-dancing lessons at the Spofford School of the Dance over the Payless Drugstore.

Otis wished his mother had more time to spend at home, so that Mrs. Brewster, the manager of the apartment house, would not have to keep her eye on him. Mrs. Spofford was never very cross with Otis for wanting to stir up a little excitement, but Mrs. Brewster made it plain that she did not like dirt, dogs, or noise, and that she stood for no nonsense from boys.

School, however, was different. Except for learning things, Otis liked school. He could find so many ways to stir up excitement.

Once a week Otis's teacher, Mrs. Gitler, took her class to the auditorium for folk dancing. Otis was the only member of the class who did not like this period.

I'd rather play dodge ball any day, he always thought as they marched down the hall. I see enough dancing at the Spofford School of the Dance.

The class had learnedseveral dances, like "Stupid One Hopping on One Foot"' and "I Lost My Way in the Gooseberry Bushes," but for the past few weeks they had been practicing a Mexican folk dance for the fiesta Rosemont School was planning for a Parent Teacher Association meeting. Each class in the school was to give a Mexican dance. Afterwards, the mothers in the P.T.A. would sell cookies and punch to raise money for visual aids for the school.

Otis was not the least bit excited about the fiesta. He was sure the P.T.A. would rather see a good ball game.

There were three more boys than girls in the class. This meant that two boys had to dance together, one of them, against his wishes, taking the part of a girl. The third boy danced alone. Otis was usually the third boy. No one wanted him for a partner, because he liked to hop on his right foot when he was supposed to hop on his left. This was hard on his partner's toes. He didn't care if no one wanted to dance with him, and today as he went through the steps alone, he amused himself by dancing stiff-legged.

Mrs. Gitler stopped the phonograph. "'Otis, be a gentleman," she said.

"Mrs. Gitler, I don't see why I have to be in the old fiesta", complained Otis. "There are too many boys in the class anyway."

"Me, too," said Stewy Hicks promptly.

Leave it to old Stewy, thought Otis. That was the trouble with Stewy. He liked to get in on whatever excitement Otis was stirring up.

To Otis's surprise, Mrs. Gitler smiled and said, "I have a different plan for the three extra boys."

Now what? wondered Otis, thinking he might get into something worse than folk dancing.

"We are going to have a bullfight in the center of the circle of dancers. One boy will be a toreador and the other two will wear a bull costume." Mrs. Gitler paused while the class laughed at the thought of two boys dressed up like a bull. "At the end of the dance, when the toreador wins and the bull falls down, the girls will all take flowers out of their hair and toss them at the toreador."

Otis was pleased with this idea. He could see himself dressed up like a bullfighter, waving his red cape in front of the bull and stepping nimbly aside when the bull charged at him. He would bow to the crowd while the girls showered him with flowers and the audience cheered. Maybe he was going to like the fiesta after all.

Mrs. Gitler spoiled his daydream by saying, "Otis, since you do not care about folk dancing, you may be half the bull."

The class laughed. "The front half or the back half?" Otis wanted to know.

"The front half," answered Mrs. Gider. "Stewart, you may be the other half. George, you may be the toreador."

Otis could see that George felt pretty good about being the toreador. Oh, well, thought Otis, being the front half of the bull was not so bad. It was better than folk dancing, and he and Stewy ought to have fun.

Then Mrs. Gitler had the three boys practice bullfighting. Stewy put his hands on Otis's hips and the two boys charged at George, who twirled an imaginary cape in front of them. When George pretended to stab the bull with a sword, Otis and Stewy fell to the floor.

"All right, Otis," said Mrs. Gitler. I don't think it is necessary for the bull to die with his front feet in the air. Falling to the floor is enough."

Otis lay on the floor and watched George bow, as the girls pretended to throw flowers at him. He thought George looked very pleased with himself.

When the bell rang for recess, Otis followed George around, singing: "Toreador-a, Don't spit on the floor-a, Use the cuspidor-a, That's what its for-a."

Of course Stewy joined in. Otis was a little disappointed when George only grinned and said, "Aw, keep quiet."

Otis Spofford 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

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Otis Spofford (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend this to kids from 3-5 grade. Very funny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone should read this awesome book!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
People should read this book Hari cowling
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like it because Otis rocks!
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Emma Haley More than 1 year ago
This book was great. Who ever hasnt read it should.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"If you like to stir up exitment, get in trouble, or watch people make mischief, I recommend this book to you! It's about Otis Spofford, a boy who likes to stir up exitment (while getting into trouble!) Beverly Cleary has put in her wonderful talent of story-telling in the world once more."
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