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 mind to help bring a library to Pitchfork?
Adventure is pretty scarce in Pitchfork, Oregon. So why shouldn't Emily bleach Dad's old plow horse or try some of her other ideas? "Written with Cleary's customary warmth and humor...The time of the story, about 1920, is delightfully brought to life."-BooklistAdventure is pretty scarce in Pitchfork, Oregon. So why shouldn't Emily bleach Dad's old plow horse or try some of her other ideas? "Written with Cleary's customary warmth and humor...The time of the story, about 1920, is delightfully brought to life."-Booklist.
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May 02, 2000
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Excerpt from Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
Emily Goes to the Post Office
The things that happened to Emily Bartlett that year!
It seemed to Emily that it all began one bright spring day, a day meant for adventure. The weather was so warm Mama had let her take off her long stockings and put on her half socks for the first time since last fall. Breezes on her knees after a winter of stockings always made Emily feel as frisky as a spring lamb. The field that Emily could see from the kitchen window had turned blue with wild forget-me-nots and down in the pasture the trees, black silhouettes trimmed with abandoned bird nests throughout the soggy winter, were suddenly turning green.
Everywhere sap was rising, and Emily felt as if it was rising in her, too. This made it difficult for her to sit still long enough to write to her cousin Muriel, who lived in Portland and had so many wonderful things--things like fleece-lined bedroom slippers with kittens on the toes, cement sidewalks to roller skate on, and a public library full of books.
"Finish your letter, Emily," said Mama, who was scrubbing out milk pans at the kitchen sink while the washing machine churned away on the back porch. "Then you can take it to the post office."
Emily looked up from her letter. "Mama, I just know something wonderful is going to happen today," she said. "I can feel it in my bones."
Mama laughed. "Adventure is pretty scarce here in Pitchfork. I think your imagination is running away with you."
Mama often said this and whenever she did, Emily could just see herself hanging on for dear life in a buggy pulled pell-mell down Main Street by a frightened horse, the way a horse once ran away with Mama when she first came out West to teach school. All Mama's hairpins came out, her long black hair came tumbling down around her shoulders, and by the time someone stopped the horse she was a sight. Emily was always sorry she could not have been there to see the horse run away with Mama the way her imagination was supposed to run away with her.
Emily read Muriel's letter once more.
This week I went to the library. I got Black Beauty. It is about a horse. It is the best book I ever read. I read it three times. I have to go now. Write soon.
P.S. Mama sends her love.
It was not an easy letter to answer. Muriel was always writing about the library books she read--books like Heidi and Toby Tyler, which Emily had never even seen. Aunt Irene, Muriel's mother, said Muriel was a regular little bookworm.
Emily did not envy Muriel the fleece-lined bedroom slippers or the cement sidewalk for roller skating, but she did envy her that library. She longed to be a bookworm, although she did not think she would care to be called one. Unfortunately, the town of Pitchfork, Oregon, did not have a library. Oh, there were things to read--the Burgess Bedtime Story in the newspaper, Elson Reader Book IV, and the Sunday-school paper, but none of these qualified Emily to be a bookworm. Emily was not lucky like Muriel, who could ride a streetcar downtown to a big library full of hundreds, even thousands, of books, although of course Emily was lucky in other ways.
Emily was lucky because of Mama, who right now was sitting down to rest her feet while the washing machine did its work out on the back porch, Mama was so little she always wore high heels, even though she had a great big house to take care of. Tap-tap-tap went her heels all day long. Once, three years ago, during the war, when Mama had been an Honor Guard girl and had marched in a parade to get people to buy Liberty Bonds, she had lost one of her heels right in the middle of the parade, but that did not stop Mama. She had marched tap-bump, tap-bump all the way down Main Street to help sell Liberty Bonds. Mama had spunk.
It was funny about Mama's being so small, because Daddy was big and strong and handsome. Once when he was just out of high school, some men came out from Portland and told Daddy he should be a prize fighter, but, Daddy said, no, thank you, he would rather be a farmer. This was lucky, because sometimes when Emily got into an argument with one of the girls at school, she settled it by saying, "My father could have been a prize fighter if he'd wanted to, but he didn't want to. So there!"
Emily was lucky in her ancestors, too. They had been pioneers, and whenever things were hard, Mama always said, "Remember your pioneer ancestors." Emily had always liked the stories of their trip across the plains in their covered wagons. Now Emily's pioneer ancestors were all dead and buried in the weedy little cemetery called Mountain Rest, but she did have Grandpa and Grandma Slater, Mama's parents, right here in Pitchfork.
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. Emily did not know who owned the first bathtub, but having the second bathtub was still pretty important. It showed that their house, known as the old Bartlett place, was very old.