Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Chapter Books - Ellen Tebbits

Ellen Tebbits - Beverly Cleary 1951 reissued 1999

Ah, isn't it nice to go back a little in time and enjoy the simple things of life, like wanting to be chosen to clap the erasers. Of course, now days its the I want to wipe off the white board. No matter, the idea of feeling special from such a simple little task is something many of us can relate to from our youth. Here in one of Beverly Cleary's tried and true books, you will find Ellen Tebbits has a way about her and the things she gets herself into that rings so true with the 3rd and 4th grade age group. Without giving any details away for those who haven't had a chance to read Ellen Tebbits, I'll try to highlight what I think is the overall feature of this really, really heartfelt and enjoyable book.

We first meet Ellen as she tries to hide a "dark" secret from the rest of her ballet classmates. The secret is one that many of us can relate to at Ellen's age. While trying to keep her secret from others, Ellen unexpectedly finds a friend in the new girl from California. Ellen comes to find that she and her new friend, Austine, share the same secret and find themselves with an instant connection and begin a great friendship. From here we see how Ellen handles a growing friendship along with many good times and third grade life predicaments they share. But, Ellen soon learns that one's actions can lead to months and months of hurt and loneliness when a misunderstanding is allowed to linger way to long. As Ellen progresses through a new fourth grade school year without her best friend by her side she learns a valuable lesson in forgiveness.

Cleary provides a number of insights to how friendships need to be nurtured and based in honesty and trust. Also, Cleary provides a great example of how a simple misunderstanding can grow to such depths when a simple apology can turn matters around. Although the setting is somewhat dated and the problems Ellen and Austine experience are probably not as traumatic as the youth of today face, Cleary provides a foundation for friendship that can still be applied. Plus, her writing talents and comical events really are never out of style.

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