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Emily's Runaway Imagination

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  3,243 ratings  ·  183 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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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,243 ratings  ·  183 reviews

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Jul 05, 2013 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
Jul 05, 2013 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
Nov 25, 2015 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.
Jennie Louwes
A solid 3 star read. Old-fashioned, not of this day and age, yet life lessons that may still be gleaned. Wholesome and good.

I liked it, while my 10 year old daughter liked it best of all. Antiquated but endearing nonetheless.

Some of the life lessons?

It begins with a dream; small steps lead to wonderful adventures and dreams that come true.

Good things don't happen all at once; sometimes, said things require steadfast perseverance.

Don't take for granted those who are always there and yet overlo
Hilary Hill
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kid-readalouds
Read aloud to my kids. They enjoyed Emily's sweet and childlike antics.
Coral Murray
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beverly-cleary
I love reading about farms,and this one is so far the best
Emily B.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might be one of my new favorite kids books. I like the way the story was structured: each chapter was its own episode, but there was an arc throughout the whole book. Emily's goal is to get a town library, which is kind of hard in the middle of nowhere, Oregon. So she and her family keep thinking of different ways to raise money, such as a "hard times party" where everyone dresses up like hobos and donates some cash.

Chapters like that are what made the book so unique. Of course, my favorite
Dec 28, 2010 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
Sharon Falduto
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Piper and I have been reading this book forever, it seems like. I ordered it because I remember my 2nd grade teacher reading it to us; most memorable to me was the part where she wanted to impress her cousin from the big city (Portland, Oregon), so she bleached her horse.

It's the story of a young girl in Pitchfork, Oregon, in the early part of the 20th century. She works with her mother to write to the state library to get a library built in Pitchfork. She also lets her imagination run away with
Mar 02, 2016 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
Trying to read this book aloud, we could understand our daughter's frustration. We love Beverly Cleary and we 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 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.)
Oct 24, 2014 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My 9yo says, "Wonderful!"
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The boys and I enjoyed this book!
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am on a mission to reread childhood authors while on vacation. Goodbye adult books with "grown-up" conflict and hello beautiful children's books of simpler times. I knew I was going to like this book, since I've liked all of Beverly Cleary's books...but I did not expect to LOVE it the way I did. What stood out to me, as a minority reading a book published in the 1960s, is the empathetic way Cleary portrayed a Chinese immigrant character.

As a child, when I read classic books written in "the ol
This book takes place in a time when most modern conveniences had not been invented yet. It is kind of like the Little House on the Prairie books in that regard. Because of this, I think the audience is limited. There are kids that will like this book, but in a world were technology plays such an important roll in our everyday lives, I'm not sure some kids would even understand what is happening.

Emily is like me, she absolutely loves books, and sometimes has a very loose grasp on reality. She s
Kristin Lambert
I loved Beverly Cleary books as a child but never heard about this one. Listened to the audiobook with my daughters (aged 4 and 7). Compared with other Cleary books, this one struck me as slower and more episodic, more like a collection of stories than a novel. Or a novel about forming a town library, with several unrelated episodes scattered throughout. It has the feel of a memoir and made me wonder whether it mirrored Cleary's own childhood (which it does seem to in some ways). As a mother and ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Birthday Book #27 from my friend Annette. I read a lot of Beverly Cleary when I was a child, but this one doesn't ring a bell. It was really charming, taking place in the early 1900's in Oregon. Emily is a young girl, an only child, with a vivid imagination (though perhaps not so "runaway" as the title claims). The main plot was creating the town's first library. Watching Emily interact with her parents and grandparents, her cousins Muriel and June, and various townsfolk was fun. As a horse love ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Book About 1920s Small Town Life

This was an enjoyable story about a girl who lived in a small fictional Oregon town in the 1920s. She wanted her community to have a library like her cousin that lived in Portland. There were wonderful descriptions throughout the story that painted the picture of small town life and what type of clothing, foods, and activities people participated in. I love Beverly Cleary stories. I hadn’t read this one before but it made a great read-aloud and my children s
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a sweet book about a little girl with a big imagination! Beverly Cleary tells the story of Emily, who lives in a small Oregon town in the 1920's, and how she helps her mother establish a public library for its citizens, not without awkward misunderstanding on Emily's part. Some of the references may be hard for 21st century children to understand, but this should encourage discussion and research about life a century ago. Beverly Cleary fans will enjoy this novel.
A Beverly Cleary book that I haven't read. This was just okay for us. We didn't love it, but chugged on through. It was based on an older time in history and was interesting to read. Perhaps because I don't have fond memories from childhood - but this just wasn't as good as the Ramona and Henry Huggins books.
Ellen Rosenberger
I read this to my daughter, Emily, for fun because of the same name and because I so enjoyed Beverly Cleary books when I was a young girl. The story was okay but not amazing and there were times it seemed that the stories illustrating this young girl's wild imagination were not as strong/believable as they could have been.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rounded up from 3.75
Though it comes across as a bit dated, this is still a well-written, sweet story that strikes true chords about being a kid. Also will help children to learn about what life was like in a small farming town in Oregon in (I believe) the 1920s and how some things they might take for granted now were not necessarily available then.
Rachel B
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, fiction
3.5 stars

This was a cute story, but some chapters were better than others. A few were very funny, others just mildly amusing. This inconsistency brought my rating down a bit, but my nieces (ages 8 and 10) said they loved it. And, after all, it was written for children! :)
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beverly cleary has done it again!!! I love her books and this one isn't different! It was a funny book and it kinda interests me the same way little house books do. I love reading about how times use to be!
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2018, for-kids
Beverly Cleary was one of my favorite childhood authors but somehow I'd missed this one as a kid. I found it had all her usual charm and sprightly storytelling. Unfortunately, when I tried to read it to my 7-year-old daughter, she murmured the shopworn boring.

Kids these days.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a child and found it pretty boring. Making pie crusts and kids walking down the train tracks to the library didn't move me. Beverly Cleary was a good writer in general, so maybe if I went back and read it again I'd find it more interesting.
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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

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