Russell Sprouts

Russell Sprouts

3.9 10
by Johanna Hurwitz, Debbie Tilley, Debbie Tilley

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Now that he's six, Russell has some very important questions:

  1. If he has to wear hand-me-downs, shoulden't bigger kids wear hand-me-ups?
  2. If he can't say bad words, can he make up his own words when he's angry?
  3. If he has to get a report card, isn't it about time his parents got one to?
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Now that he's six, Russell has some very important questions:

  1. If he has to wear hand-me-downs, shoulden't bigger kids wear hand-me-ups?
  2. If he can't say bad words, can he make up his own words when he's angry?
  3. If he has to get a report card, isn't it about time his parents got one to?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bright, ingenuous Russell of Rip Roaring Russell and Russell Rides Again is now in first grade. Like his female literary counterpartBeverly Cleary's RamonaRussell experiences life fully, puzzling over its ironies and contradictions. A new word he picked up at school, for instance, turns out to be a bad word that his mother forbids him to use. Russell is greatly surprised: How can a word be bad? When his report card reflects high marks in everything but Behavior (he calls out without raising his hand) Russell becomes frustrated. Angry with his parents for transgressions that loom large in his eyes, Russell makes them a report card, checking Needs Improvement under all five categories of ``TV, Cookys, Presnts, Bed Time, and Yelling.stet'' Hurwitz portrays the everyday events of childhood with an appealing blend of humor and realism. The curiosity, impatience, urgency and sincerity of a likable 6-year-old shine forth from these pages. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 5-8. (September)
Children's Literature
Hurwitz's popular 1987 book is back, with new illustrations by Debbie Tilley, packaged as part of the "Riverside Kids" series of HarperTrophy books. Six-year-old Russell struggles with some of the classic challenges of childhood—figuring out which words are inexplicably perceived by his parents as "bad words" (and making up his own socially acceptable "bad word—Schmatz!"—to use instead); finding the right Halloween costume (now that his tried-and-true tiger pajamas are stigmatized as babyish); braving a scary movie; surviving a disaster to his potato-growing science experiment; and bringing home a first report card with a checkmark by the dreaded notation, "Needs improvement." Fifteen years after his first appearance, Russell is as likeable a protagonist as ever, and Tilley's abundant, expressive illustrations add further kid appeal. 2001 (orig. 1987), HarperTrophy/HarperCollins, $4.25. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Claudia Mills AGES: 6 7 8 9
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 Hurwitz continues the gently funny adventures of Russell, who is now six and in the first grade. In six loosely connected stories, Russell learns some new words to which his parents have a strong negative reaction, gets lost in the movie theater, and makes a report card for his parents. All these little contretemps are resolved in relaxed ways. By the end of the spring vacation, Russell, like his science project, has sprouted and is at last ready to wear the red rain coat that had been too big. Hurwitz' humor is quiet and gentle. Her characters approach each other with a basic good will and sweetness which makes most problems evaporate. The stories can stand alone as story-time read-alouds, and primary grade children will certainly identify with and enjoy them. Ruth Semrau, Lovejoy School, McKinney, Tex.

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Product Details

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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Hand-Me-Up

Russell Michaels was six years old. His home was an apartment building in New York City. The best thing about living in an apartment building was that his best friend, Teddy, lived there, too. Russell lived on the second floor with his parents and his little sister, Elisa. Teddy lived with his parents and his big sister, Nora, on the seventh floor. Teddy was seven, a year older than Russell. Sometimes Russell wished he were just the same age as Teddy. But most of the time, he was glad to be the age and size that he was. It made him proud to have an older friend in second grade.

About twice a year, Teddy's mother would sort through all his clothing and set aside everything that was too small for Teddy. Then she would put the outgrown but not worn-out clothes into a big shopping bag or a box and bring them downstairs to the second floor for Russell. If something was too small for Teddy, it was likely that it was just the right size for Russell.

The night before, after Russell was asleep, Teddy's mother had brought a big box of Teddy's outgrown clothes down to Russell's apartment.

"Hand-me-downs!" said Russell's mother with delight when she showed the box to Russell the next day.

"If we lived upstairs over Teddy instead of downstairs below him, would these be hand-me-ups?" Russell wanted to know.

Mrs. Michaels laughed. "I never thought of it that way, but I guess they would)" she agreed. She took everything out of the box and held each piece of clothing up against Russell.

There was the winter coat with toggles that Teddy had worn last year. There was a T-shirt with a pictureof Mickey Mouse and another one with a picture of Superman. Teddy had neat clothes and Russell was glad that he could wear them.

"It's too bad that we can't give any clothing to Teddy in return," said Mrs. Michaels.

Russell laughed. It was a funny thought. If be was too big for his old jacket and pants, then Teddy would certainly be too big. So some of Russell's old clothing was put away for Elisa to grow into. Elisa was only three years old, but when she got bigger she could wear lots of his outgrown clothes, including his old yellow rain slicker.

Russell was glad that his slicker didn't fit him any more. He wanted to get a new one that was red because red was his favorite color. His favorite toy cars were red and his bike was red, too. He even liked to eat red things like spaghetti with lots of tomato sauce or hamburgers with loads of catsup.

Mrs. Michaels took Russell shopping for a new red slicker. They went to four different stores, but they couldn't find a red one.

"How about blue?" Mrs. Michaels asked finally.

"No," said Russell. I want red."

"Yellow is a very popular color," said the saleswoman.

"No," said Russell.

Mrs. Michaels sighed.. "Next week we'll go to some other stores," she promised. "But if we can't find a red one, I'm afraid you'll have to settle for another color."

Then something wonderful-awful happened. Russell's grandmother saw a red slicker in the children's department of a store near her home. She knew that Russell liked red things -the best. So when she saw the red slicker, she bought it for him and put it in a package and mailed it to Russell.

When the package arrived, Russell was very excited. He usually received packages when it was his birthday, which was in the spring. But this was September, and his birthday wasn't going to come around again for months and months. The red slicker was just the way Russell imagined it. At least that's the way it looked until he tried it on. The coat came down almost to his ankles and the sleeves were so long that his hands were hidden.

"Oh, Russell. This is much too big," said his mother, laughing. "We'll just have to ask Grandma to return it."

"No, no," shouted Russell. "I like it big. It will keep me extra dry."

"You won't be able to move in it," said his mother. "It is really a shame, but you look a little like a circus clown."

"No, I don't," Russell protested. But when he peeked in the bathroom mirror, he saw that he did. look pretty silly in this too-big slicker.

"I'm growing," said Russell hopefully. "You said I was growing so much. I bet it will fit me next week. Please, can't I keep it?"

Mrs. Michaels sighed. "I guess we can keep it," she said. "But I'll still have to get you a new slicker to wear this season. Unless, of course, you inherit something from Teddy."

Then Mrs. Michaels smiled. "You know," she said, "this red slicker would probably fit Teddy right now. I think we should let him wear it until you grow into it."

"Teddy can't have it," Russell protested. He wanted to keep the slicker in his closet. "It's mine!"

"Russell, that's being selfish," said his mother. "Think how many clothes you've gotten from Teddy over the years." She pointed to the red- and-white -striped shirt that Russell was wearing at that very moment. It used to belong to Teddy.

"But I want to be' able to look at my red slicker," Russell complained.

"You'll be able to look at it on Teddy," said his mother. "And I promise you, before you know it, you'll be wearing it yourself and he'll be looking at it on you....

Russell Sprouts. Copyright © by Johanna Hurwitz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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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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Russell Sprouts 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
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