Monday, February 1, 2021

Beverly Cleary Author Study: Otis Spofford

Illustrations by Louis Darling, though my copy
has a revised cover by Alan Tiegreen.

I’ve already made the disclaimer that I love Henry and his friends most, but I’m trying to be fair to Otis and his friends as well. Otis was the antagonist in Ellen Tebbits, and Ellen and her friends appear in this book as well.

In his own book, Otis’s misfit behavior takes center stage. As an adult and a librarian who has worked in public schools, reading about some of his antics gave me PTSD. I think we all know kids who do things just to do them, not to cause trouble and not to be mean, but they’re disruptive and exhausting all the same. But I can see how kids would love to read about how Otis gets in trouble without getting in trouble themselves. A friend and I used to play Ellen and Otis (I was Otis, what does that say about me?) so I guess I liked them just fine when I was a kid!

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