Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ellen Tebbits

Ellen Tebbits

Beverly Cleary
Illustrator:  Louis Darling 
For ages 8 to 10
HarperCollins, 1951   ISBN: 0380709139

Ellen Tebbits has a problem, her mother is making her wear long underwear, and Ellen is doing her best to keep this mortifying thing a secret. Most of the time the underwear stay out of sight, thank heavens, but in ballet class they have a tendency to slip and sag. Ellen cannot bear to think that anyone will find out that she is wearing the underwear under her ballet outfit.

At ballet schoolEllen is able to change in the janitor’s closet without mishap and for a while all goes well. Then, in class, the underwear starts to slip down and bulge around her middle. To make matters worse, Otis Spofford, the ballet teacher’s son, starts to make fun of Ellen’s efforts to hitch up the dreadful underwear.

To Ellen’s amazement, the new girl, Austine Allen, comes to the rescue. Ellen finds out that Austine’s mother also believes in dressing little girls in long underwear. Their shared secret quickly solidifies Ellen and Austine’s friendship, but as Ellen soon finds out, best friends can have problems, just like everyone else.

With humor and great sensitivity, master storyteller Beverly Cleary explores the inner feelings, and the trials and the tribulations, of a young girl in elementary school. Readers will see how easy it is for people to misunderstand one another, and how hard it is to fix these misunderstandings after the fact.