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Emily's Runaway Imagination

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,124 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
Spunky Emily Bartlett lives in an old farmhouse in Pitchfork, Oregon - at a time when automobiles are brand-new inventions and libraries are a luxury few small towns can afford. Her runaway imagination leads her to bleach a horse, hold a very scary sleepover, and feed the hogs an unusual treat. But can she use her lively mind to help bring a library to Pitchfork?
ebook, 95 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins (first published 1961)
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Jul 05, 2013 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much, I have no idea why I was so resistant to reading it. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to Ramona as well, I suspect because the first Cleary I ever read was one of those dreadful teenage romance things, and I read it at my most cynical, disaffected and obnoxious. So my default response to Cleary is "Oh, I hate her" but in reality, I mostly love all the books she wrote. Except the teenage romances. I think.

Anyway, Emily! Oh, how I loved Emily. She's hilarious an

I was in a bad mood when I started reading this book, about a girl who is always being told that she lets her imagination run away with her. It instantly made me feel happy.

Emily is nine going on ten. She is the only child of a farming family outside Pitchfork, a very small town in Oregon. Her mother came from somewhere east, possibly Chicago, where she had been a teacher. Her father is descended from pioneers who came to Oregon generations ago. They all work hard and Emil
Nov 25, 2015 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although at times it strays away from the main plot in ways that don't feed back into it, this is really quite a lovely story. Well written, colorful characters, and, if you're familiar with the time period, an excellent snapshot of the 20s. I also love the main idea, a small town gaining a library due to the idea of one girl. I'm just dying to know more about Pete Ginty! He helps and teases in spite of his grumpy exterior - what is his story? Ah, well. The rest is a good read.
Jul 05, 2013 Susann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
The Light Flaky Pie Crust chapter is probably my favorite, but The Hard-Times Party is a close tie. I made my own version of Emily's valentine once, and the entire plot centers on opening and sustaining a public library. What more could a Beverly Cleary devotee ask for?

I have this original hard cover edition now, but growing up I had the Dell Yearling cover with Emily Cloroxing a horse. I'm pretty sure it was one of the two books I was allowed to choose for my annual cross-country flight to my C
Dec 28, 2010 Phoebe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has aged well since I read it as a child. Emily's small Oregon town of Pitchfork is a good place to live, but it is sadly lacking in one regard: it needs a library. Emily hears of the riches of the Portland library from her city cousin, and longs to read Black Beauty, and other wonderful-sounding books. Her mother decides that Emily is right, and sends away to the State Library for help. Sort of a Henry Huggins story with a female protagonist, readers should enjoy this gently humorous ...more
Leta Blake
Mar 08, 2015 Leta Blake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My 9yo says, "Wonderful!"
Trying to read this book aloud, we could understand our daughter's frustration. We love Beverly Cleary and were excited to introduce her to a new author. This was a poor choice. Although we stopped reading with our daughter, we kept reading until the end. There are some sweet moments, but the story does not fit with the title or the description on the back cover.

To read our full review, go to The Reading Tub.
Jan 26, 2011 Melee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I have such memories of re-reading this over and over as a child.
I think I was fascinated with the era Emily lived in. I desperately wished that I wore bloomers, lived in a small town, and attended "Hard-Times Parties". (Actually, I did have an unofficial Hard-Time party once with my brothers. The only thing I remember about, though, is that I wore my old, somewhat ragged nightgown that my grandmother made for me years before. *sigh* Those were the days.)
Emily Bartlett lives in Pitchfork, Oregon on a small family farm during WWI. She does love her small-town life but often finds herself jealous of her big city cousin, Muriel who lives in Portland. Muriel has access to a library where she is able to check out great books like Black Beauty. Pitchfork doesn't have a library. But then her mother gets a great idea to encourage the town to find a place to be a library and then sends a letter to the State Library in Salem, OR. The State Library agrees ...more
Cathy Cramer
Our 9 year old wanted to read this after enjoying the Ramona and Henry Huggins books. This one is funny, too. Perhaps Ramona has more continuous humor, but this book is good, and the different time and culture are interesting, too. It was interesting reading this one after "The Mother Daughter Book Club" with an older child, because this book likewise has the characters reading and discussing classics - Anna Sewell's "Black Beauty" and Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven." "Emily's Runaway Imagination" ...more
Aug 14, 2015 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this to my daughter but finished reading it on my own because I couldn't wait. It is a story of Emily who lives in a rural Oregon town and yearns for a library. She also has many small-town adventures during the year that are perfect in their lack of drama for anyone but Emily. A person's imagination can make life interesting, and Emily's certainly does that.

It is not my favorite Beverly Cleary book, but a sweet collection of stories to read when drama reads have sapped all you
Nov 13, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course I loved this book when I was a kid. Emily's main goal throughout the book and her various shenanigans is to get the town its own library. Her many other adventures--trying to help her mama put together an elegant luncheon...but getting all the hogs drunk instead, telling spooky stories when having a sleepover with her fuddy-duddy cousin, trying to make the perfect light and flaky pie crust, etc.--are adorable and heartwarming. The pictures throughout are sweet, and I loved our setting ...more
Jan 23, 2015 kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids, fic, audio, 2015
loved this Beverly Cleary way more than the other ones I've read recently. maybe because I feel like I relate to the main character more. I feel like the book has a good amount of action, humor, life learning lessons, but it also screams OUT OF DATE more so than the other Cleary's I've read because this one takes place in a small town in the rural country knocking it back even more years before the pub date. at the same time though, kids might get it as historical fiction vs it just being out of ...more
Laura Hughes
Sep 30, 2013 Laura Hughes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-readers
A young girl gets up to hijinks living in a small farm town in rural Oregon in the late 1910s/early 1920s. Her problems don't stem from her runaway imagination so much as from her quirky ingenuity, as she comes up with her own creative solutions to problems: she Cloroxes a horse so that her city cousin will think of her family's work horse as snow-white steed; gamely colludes with her grandfather to avoid the ridicule of the townsfolk when his Model T doesn't work as well as a horse for country ...more
Amber the Human
Aug 11, 2015 Amber the Human rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I was a little perplexed at first ... Cleary writes about how it's not long after the war ... but it took me a second to figure out which war she was talking about. But once you get around to them not having electricity, it's more clear. The book can also be a little racist ... just something to think about for parents whose kids are reading this on their own. I would recommend reading it with them or at least discussing parts of the plot.
Lydia LaPutka
I was a HUGE Beverly Cleary fan "back in the day," when I was in elementary school and junior high. I loved finding a good author and sticking with him or her. I often read full series (Ramona series was one of them, of course!), and when I found a good author, I would read ALL of their books. I ran across this book and didn't recall reading it, so I decided to read it as a 46-year-old adult!!!

This book is very different from Cleary's other work because it is set during the time when few people
This is pretty dated these days, better have the internet handy or an encyclopedia to look up certain words because young readers won't know what they are. That said it is a very cute story and an enjoyable read. Though I'm not sure presenting bleaching a horse was a good idea, had a conversation with my daughter about how that probably wouldn't be good for the horse- a good bath would have sufficed.... seems like bleach would burn the horse..but maybe bleach was different in the late 20s/early ...more
Sheri Struk
This was one of those books that I hadn't ever heard about, despite being very familiar with its author. Emily is a somewhat typical young girl of a past era who lives on a farm, enjoys reading and who is concerned about what others think. She resides in Pitchfork, Oregon and hopes that someday soon there will be a library in her town. She especially wants the library to have a copy of Black Beauty, a book her cousin from Portland has talked about. With her mother, Emily works on making this dre ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Audrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children ages 5-11
This was a very simple, easy, and quick read. I first read this book many years ago when I was quite a bit younger. I remember enjoying it a lot then, and for some reason the part about the “generous pinch of baking powder” always stuck with me. So much so that the other day I added some baking powder to my pie crust…and then decided to reread this book. The reading level is quite low (I would guess it is geared for 5-11 year olds), but it was still a charming little story of a series of little ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spunky Emily Bartlett lives in an old farmhouse in Pitchfork, Oregon'at a time when automobiles are brand-new inventions and libraries are a luxury few small towns can afford. Her runaway imagination leads her to bleach a horse, hold a very scary sleepover, and feed the hogs an unusual treat. But can she use her lively..
Feb 06, 2015 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emily is an incredible girl stifled by the embarrassment of the small town leash. She loves her life, but would prefer if her exploits were not quite so public. For any child who has been embarrassed by well intentioned adults, and any child who wants to learn about life in 1920 something Oregon this book is terrifc
May 26, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What fun! This is a little girl, who is much loved by her parents, but very unspoiled. She lives in a small town and the book is basically the story of how this small town manages to get a library started. Beautiful peek back into older times when the motor car was just getting started.
Jul 25, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The chapters are really long for a children's book. I read this to my 5-year-old and we had to stop half-way through chapters most nights. But it's a really sweet book with very likable characters. I liked the simplicity of the story and the farm setting.
Jul 10, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorite Beverly Cleary books from when I was a kid! I'm glad people don't really name their dogs "Prince" these days, otherwise I wouldn't be able to refrain from calling them "Plince." Hee hee.
Amy Rae
I know I read this as a child, but the only thing I remember is the time Emily gets the pigs drunk on rotten apples and they ruin everything.

I really gotta reread this, I guess is what I'm saying.
Jan 24, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good book. It was about a girl who lived in a little town. She lived on a farm and her family did not have a lot of money. She wants a library, because her cousin has one in her town.
Dec 17, 2011 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emily Bartlett is a little girl growing up in the 1920's in a small town out west. She has a healthy, vivid imagination and a happy home life with her parents on their farm. Her grandparent's own the general store, so Emily is the only girl in the town allowed to go behind the counter. Emily's cousin Muriel lives in Portland, Oregon, so when she tells Emily about the wonderful books she gets from the library, Emily wishes her town would get it's own library someday. Mama has what it takes to mak ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Firefly_1824 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was quick and easy to read, and Emily is very easy to identify with. The setting is perfect for a girl such as Emily, and the story flows easily.
May 04, 2009 Gwen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-fiction
"Emily, you are right," said Mama suddenly. "Go get the tablet of linen paper. I am going to write a letter for you to mail." -- "Who to?" asked Emily. --"The state library in Salem, " said Mama, who believed in never putting off until tomorrow what she could do today. "Times are changing. Other towns are getting libraries - there is already one in Cornelius. There's no reason why Pitchfork can't keep up with the times."

A spunky girl character, trimmed hats & drunk pigs, a reason to bleach a
Oct 24, 2014 Alexandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-6-year-old
Read this book to my girls. They weren't necessarily asking to read it every night, but it was a fun story.
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Beverly Cleary (born April 12, 1916) is the author of over 30 books for young adults and children. Her characters are normal children facing challenges that many of us face growing up, and her stories are liberally laced with humour. Some of her best known and loved characters are Ramona Quimby and her sister Beatrice ("Beezus"), Henry Huggins, and Ralph S. Mouse.

Beverly Cleary was born Beverly At
More about Beverly Cleary...

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“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.” 0 likes
“And now I’m going to find out how to get a library started.” 0 likes
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