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Emily's Runaway Imagination

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  2,366 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Can imaginative Emily make her biggest dream come true?

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
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published September 1961 by William Morrow and Company, Inc. (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
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
Mar 02, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would give it 3-4 stars but the kids voted 5 this morning on the drive.
It was so funny, I just finished reading an article about Why British tell better Children's Stories compared to Americans, and it came down to we use moral realism in the US and the Brits use fantasy. I agree and this book is the epitome of moral realism. A slice of life story about a girl in the rural west in the early 1900s. Kids said their favorite parts were the horse, hard times party and scary story night.
After start
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.)
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.
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.
Leta Blake
Mar 08, 2015 Leta Blake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My 9yo says, "Wonderful!"
Jul 08, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016reviews
First sentence: The things that happened to Emily Bartlett that year!

Premise/plot: Emily Bartlett is the heroine of Beverly Cleary's Emily's Runaway Imagination. Emily has many adventures or misadventures, many of which center around the formation of the first public library in her town. I would categorize the book as historical fiction. Reference is made to a world war, and, I think it may even be the first world war. One of the adventures involves Emily's grandpa getting a car. And having a ca
May 27, 2016 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars
Very Underrated Beverly Cleary book!! FANTASTIC!!

While reading it (listening) I couldn't quite figure time line as it was published in 1961 ish but there is talk of horse and buggy and a new Model T. I figured it was late 20's early 30's, about the time Beverly Cleary was that age. After I read the synopsis here on Goodreads I was like "Yes, 1920 sure wasn't 1960 ish)

I love Emily's Imagination! It is great fun! I loved the historical aspect! I would recommend it as Historical fiction for th
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
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
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
Sep 10, 2011 Audrey rated it liked it
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
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
May 09, 2016 Jeff rated it it was amazing
An absolutely delightful story. Cleary's childhood in Oregon gives life to all kinds of rich and fulfilling details to life in the early years of the 20th century. The story features an episodic format with each chapter sharing one of Emily's many misadventures. But there is also a main plot wherein Emily works with her mother and a ladies civic league to bring a library to her small hometown of Pitchfork. The references to the love of reading and the power of books will make any avid reader fee ...more
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
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
May 04, 2009 Gwen rated it really liked it
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
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
Nov 13, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 13, 2016 Dianeh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been a first grade teacher for many, many years, I knew that Beverly Cleary's books were very popular with children. I had never read one since they are a little long to read even a chapter at a time to 6 year olds. This book was in a "Little free library" so I borrowed it. I read it and loved it. I, especially, loved Emily. She seemed so real to me. Now I am reading the first of Cleary's memoirs, "A Girl from Yamhill". It definitely explains why Emily is so realistic! Beverly Cleary was ...more
May 21, 2013 Vanessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vanessa by: Chels
Shelves: children-s-books
It's hard to say how a child would perceive this book, but as an adult reading it for the first time, I loved it. Beverly Cleary captures the inner life of a child so perfectly: more than anything else, Emily just wants the adults in her life to take her seriously. I totally remember that feeling, and not understanding why grown-ups always felt the need to chuckle at things I said. Cleary also expertly depicts how children see adults--they catch all the meaningful looks we exchange over their he ...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
The Styling Librarian
Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary - Historical Fiction, 4th grade-6th grade. I have such fond memories of this book. It is my favorite Beverly Cleary book of all time. I just can’t get enough of Emily’s mistakes, antics, and well intentioned actions. I just can’t stop smiling as I listened to this story! I’ve tried to champion reading this book with my students through the years and made a few fans as well. The idea of bleaching a horse never would occur to people regularly, but for ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Maia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When my mom got me this book I didn`t get time to read it.But when I started it I felt a bit more confident. I got stuck again. So I started over AGAIN but this time I felt really confident.

So the book was about a girl who makes a really big change in her hometown, Pitchfork. And on the way her imagination leads her to feeding the hogs an unusual treat, bleaching a hoarse and holding a very, very scary sleepover. But all in all it is a very, very, very funny book. I loved it.
Jun 16, 2016 Bunny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm genuinely surprised how many Beverly Cleary books I didn't read back in the day. I loved the Ramona books, so...hmm. Lack of access, maybe?

This one, though, I don't think I would've appreciated nearly enough, only because of the time frame it was set in. No access to a library? Crazy talk. But now, I really did find it absolutely adorable and very sweet.

Also, it really makes me want to bake a pie. A real, crust from scratch, pie.

I may yet.
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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.” 1 likes
“And now I’m going to find out how to get a library started.” 1 likes
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