Ellen Tebbitts by Beverly Cleary

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Third-grader Ellen Tebbits lives with her parents on Tillamook Street in Portland, Oregon. The book opens when Ellen heads to her dance class at the studio run by the mother of a classmate, Otis Spofford, who is always teasing her. When she arrives, she heads to change in a broom closet so the other girls cannot see her terrible secret: Ellen is wearing woolen underwear. After class, she accidentally walks in on a new girl in class, Austine Allen, who's also wearing the dreaded underwear. Soon, the two become best friends. Other chapters in the book deal with Ellen's first-ever time going horseback riding, her efforts to bring a giant beet to school for show-and-tell, and Ellen and Austine's efforts to put up with Otis' antics. During summer vacation, Ellen and Austine decide to dress as twins on their first day back to school. The plan is for their mothers to make identical dresses for them. Austine's mother, however, cannot sew, so her dress doesn't turn out well. As the day goes on Austine begins to amuse herself by tugging on the sash of Ellen's dress. Ellen gets irritated and finally slaps Austine in the lunch line when her sash comes undone. Unfortunately, Austine was innocent; Otis had pulled on her dress. Austine begins spending time with other girls and ignores Ellen, who thinks everyone looks down on her for slapping her best friend. In the final chapter, the teacher chooses Ellen and Austine to go outside and clean the chalkboard erasers. Austine continues to ignore Ellen, who becomes so angered by this that she yanks on the sash on Austine's dress and rips it. Both girls end up in tears and, after learning that Otis was the culprit in the lunch line and that both of their mothers made them wear their dreaded woolen underwear that day, they mend their friendship.

About Beverly Cleary

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Published by Yearling. 160 pages
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