Emily's Runaway Imagination

by Beverly Cleary

Paperback, 2008



Local notes

PB Cle




HarperCollins (2008), Edition: Rep Ill, 288 pages


Emily decides that the town of Pitchfork needs a library, and comes up with a plan to make it happen. Can she make her dream come true?


Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1964)
Nēnē Award (Nominee — 1965)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

240 p.; 5.25 x 0.5 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member nmhale
In one of her standalone novels, Cleary writes a semi-historical piece about a young girl living in Oregon just at the time that automobiles are appearing on the roads. Emily is an inventive child who loves her parents, her fine house ( with the second bathtub in Yamhill County), and her
Show More
grandparents and their grocer's store. She sometimes can be carried away by her fancies, or, as her mother frequently tells her, lets her imagination run away with her. Like the time when she decides to bleach their farm horse. Her cousin Muriel is coming to visit, and has been raving about the book Black Beauty, and Emily doesn't think their poor plodding work horse is elegant enough for her. The story is basically a collection of sweet anecdotes like that one, with one broader story arc about the library that Emily's mom is busy creating.

Emily is a spunky girl, well developed, charming, and perfectly captures a child's voice. The setting of the book was a treat: it presented a time in the history of our country that is not too distant with the simplicity that is necessary for a child's book. I enjoyed reading about her grandfather's new car, and the hard times party where the town puts on its best face despite economic difficulties of the time. I was disappointed in the presentation of Mr. Quock, the one Asian man in the town. Her characterization of him isn't derogatory, but rather condescending and stereotyped. I'm hoping Cleary was writing to convey the attitudes of the town at that point in time, rather than her own perspective. Other than that, the novel is a great choice for youngsters, especially if one wanted to introduce them to some of our history in a gentle fashion. A discussion on the history and treatment of Asian Americans would be a good accompaniment.
Show Less
LibraryThing member foggidawn
Emily Bartlett is a lively young girl growing up in the small town of Pitchfork, Oregon. She dreams of the town having its own library, and her mother is working toward that goal as well. Emily has many amusing adventures, like the time she feeds the hogs some rotted cider apples just before her
Show More
mother's fancy ladies' tea, causing the hogs to behave in a decidedly undignified fashion. Or the time she bleaches the family's white plowhorse, because her horse-crazy big-city cousin Muriel is coming to visit and Emily wants to make a good impression. Or the time she goes for a ride in her grandfather's new automobile, and they encounter some interesting mechanical difficulties . . .

This is a gentle story, not as charming as the Ramona books, but still a pleasant read. Some of the attitudes portrayed do not jibe with modern sensibilities, but reflect the stereotypes and prejudices of the book's time. I picked this up because I could not remember if I had read it as a child -- now, having read it, I still can't remember! Some of the episodes in the book seem familiar, while others don't strike any chords for me. I would recommend it only to readers who are big fans of Cleary's writing and wish to read everything she has written -- readers unfamiliar with Cleary would be best advised to start with one of her more popular series about Henry or Ramona or Ralph.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kl10
excellent book, about a girl named Emily who try to get her little town to keep up with the new times by getting a library in her town.
LibraryThing member SirRoger
Not as touching as the Ramona books, but enjoyable nonetheless.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This is a quiet book - there isn't any great conflict. The major story is the efforts to get a public library started in the small town where Emily lives. The charm of the book lies in the peek it gives the reader of the world where motor cars were just beginning to come into fashion. Emily thinks
Show More
often of her pioneer ancestors and doesn't feel that removed from them. Emily has some fun adventures, which seem to work out o.k. - it reminds me, as an adult, about how the small things can make kids worry.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Necampos
This was such a cute book. The little girl Emily has quite a mind and imagination of her own. because it was written in the early 1900's. things we are used to every day were not present in Emily's time. Her love for books and desire to be up to date, she dreams of bringing a Library to her town in
Show More
Oregon. Throughout the story, this mischievous and non-stop child does some wild things that no normal child would do. Definitely a funny book!
Show Less
LibraryThing member fuzzi
Another fun read, written by Beverly Cleary. This time we are in the rural area of Pitchfork, Oregon sometime after the first world war. Emily is an only child with few children to play with, so she often gets into situations because of her overactive imagination! Wanting their old plow horse to
Show More
look more like a beautiful 'steed', she bleaches her with Clorox! And then there's the day when Emily's mother has all the fine ladies of the area come to her house for a special luncheon, but something happens to the hogs at the same time.

Fun read, enjoyable and recommended.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ferrisscottr
I grew up on Beverly Cleary and just finished reading this to my daughter. I don't think my daughter would have enjoyed reading it herself but we both enjoyed with my reading it out loud (the drunk hogs chapter was hilarious).
LibraryThing member JalenV
Emily is the daughter of a farmer and a former schoolteacher.


Chapter 1 - The war Emily mentions is World War I, which would have been known as 'the World War' or 'the Great War' in her day. Liberty Bonds were first issued on April 24, 1917 and last issued on September 28, 1918. WWI ended on
Show More
November 11, 1918, so the parade Emily's mother marched in was probably held in 1917 or 1918. Since that parade was three years ago, this book opens in the spring of 1920 or 1921.

Party lines were telephone lines that served more than one household. Emily's mother was wise not to say anything over the phone that she didn't want the whole town to know because any person on the same party line could listen to the phone calls made or received by anyone else on that line.

Chapter 2 - I confess I hadn't known that the Armenians were the starving population that would be mentioned when American children were wasting food in Emily's time. I decided to find out how bad off Armenians were after WWI. I had no idea that the Ottoman Empire repeatedly deported and massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenians during 1914-1918, let alone that the word 'genocide' was coined to describe their fate. Apparently that genocide was used as a guide for Hitler's genocide of the Jews in WWII. How horrible!
Show Less

Similar in this library




½ (102 ratings; 3.8)
Page: 0.3162 seconds