Cover image for Otis Spofford
Otis Spofford
Cleary, Beverly.
Personal Author:
Reillustrated edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperTrophy/HarperCollins, 2008.
Physical Description:
190 pages, 5 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
A troublemaker meets his match when he pushes the quietest girl in the class too far.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Morrow, 1953.
Reading Level:
720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 4.0 6482.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.1 6 Quiz: 08763 Guided reading level: O.
Added Author:



Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



When it comes to stirring up a little excitement in class, Otis Spofford knows just what to do. He can turn a folk dance fiesta into a three-ring circus, or an arithmetic lesson into a spitball marathon. Even his friends George and Stewy can't keep up when it comes to Otis's mischief.

Best of all, Otis likes teasing Ellen Tebbits. She's so neat and well-behaved--there's something irresistible about making Ellen mad! But when Otis's teasing goes too far, he feels sorry . . . and then nervous. For now Ellen isn't just mad . . . she's planning something!

Beloved author Beverly Cleary brings real understanding to this wonderful story of a "bad boy."

Author Notes

Beverly Cleary was born on April 12, 1916. Her family lived on a small farm in McMinnville, Oregon, before moving to Portland. Ironically, this internationally known author of children's books struggled to learn how to read when she entered school. Before long however Cleary had learned to love books, and as a child she spent a good deal of her time in the public library.

Cleary earned her first B.A. in 1938 from the University of California at Berkeley. Her second degree, a B.A. in library science, was bestowed by the University of Washington in Seattle in 1939. She worked for a short time as Children's Librarian in Yakima, Washington, before moving to California.

Cleary began her writing career in her early thirties. Her stories and especially her characters, Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby, have proven popular with young readers. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages and are available in over twenty countries. Some of her best known titles are Ellen Tebbits (1951), Henry and the Paper Route (1957), Runaway Ralph (1970), and Dear Mr. Henshaw (1983). Several television programs have been produced from the Henry Huggins and Ramona stories.

Cleary has won many awards for her contributions to children's literature, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1975, the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal in 1980 and the John Newbery Medal in 1984.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Otis Spofford's uncontrollable urge for mischief makes him a surprisingly contemporary third grader, despite the fact that this story was written by Beverly Cleary (Morrow, 1953) almost a half-century ago. The setting for most of the story is Otis' school, where his one-size-fits-all classroom teacher orchestrates the class lessons accompanied by Otis, the class clown. Cleary sums up Otis this way: "Except for learning things, Otis liked school." His goal in life seems to be to stir up excitement, which often backfires, until arch rival Ellen Tebbits teaches him the difference between good-natured teasing and bullying. The timeless appeal of this well-written story overshadows the infrequent references to dated details, like 20-cent school lunches, cloakrooms, and phonographs. Johnny Heller's clear, crisp voice is perfect for the story. As a comedian, Heller lends an element of levity to his reading. His acting skills are apparent as the story's characters take on subtly different voice inflections. Appropriate for classroom read-alongs, listening centers, and individual use, this entertaining audiobook would make a nice addition to any collection. Larger libraries will want to consider purchasing multiple copies.-Kirsten Martindale, Buford Academy, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Otis Spofford Chapter One There was nothing Otis Spofford liked better than stirring up a little excitement. Otis was a medium-sized boy with reddish-brown hair, freckles, and ears that stuck out. He often wore a leather jacket with a rabbit's foot tied to the zipper, and be always laced his shoes with the kind of laces that glow in the dark-pink for the right shoe and green for the left. Otis found it hard to stir up any excitement around home. He was sure it would be easier if he lived in a house with a yard to play in, like the other boys and girls in Room Eleven at Rosemont School. Instead, he lived with his mother, Valerie Todd Spofford, in an apartment. Mrs. Spofford was away from home most of the time teaching ballet and tap-dancing lessons at the Spofford School of the Dance over the Payless Drugstore. Otis wished his mother had more time to spend at home, so that Mrs. Brewster, the manager of the apartment house, would not have to keep her eye on him. Mrs. Spofford was never very cross with Otis for wanting to stir up a little excitement, but Mrs. Brewster made it plain that she did not like dirt, dogs, or noise, and that she stood for no nonsense from boys. School, however, was different. Except for learning things, Otis liked school. He could find so many ways to stir up excitement. Once a week Otis's teacher, Mrs. Gitler, took her class to the auditorium for folk dancing. Otis was the only member of the class who did not like this period. I'd rather play dodge ball any day, he always thought as they marched down the hall. I see enough dancing at the Spofford School of the Dance. The class had learned several dances, like "Stupid One Hopping on One Foot"' and "I Lost My Way in the Gooseberry Bushes," but for the past few weeks they had been practicing a Mexican folk dance for the fiesta Rosemont School was planning for a Parent Teacher Association meeting. Each class in the school was to give a Mexican dance. Afterwards, the mothers in the P.T.A. would sell cookies and punch to raise money for visual aids for the school. Otis was not the least bit excited about the fiesta. He was sure the P.T.A. would rather see a good ball game. There were three more boys than girls in the class. This meant that two boys had to dance together, one of them, against his wishes, taking the part of a girl. The third boy danced alone. Otis was usually the third boy. No one wanted him for a partner, because he liked to hop on his right foot when he was supposed to hop on his left. This was hard on his partner's toes. He didn't care if no one wanted to dance with him, and today as he went through the steps alone, he amused himself by dancing stiff-legged. Mrs. Gitler stopped the phonograph. "'Otis, be a gentleman," she said. "Mrs. Gitler, I don't see why I have to be in the old fiesta", complained Otis. "There are too many boys in the class anyway." "Me, too," said Stewy Hicks promptly. Leave it to old Stewy, thought Otis. That was the trouble with Stewy. He liked to get in on whatever excitement Otis was stirring up. To Otis's surprise, Mrs. Gitler smiled and said, "I have a different plan for the three extra boys." Now what? wondered Otis, thinking he might get into something worse than folk dancing. "We are going to have a bullfight in the center of the circle of dancers. One boy will be a toreador and the other two will wear a bull costume." Mrs. Gitler paused while the class laughed at the thought of two boys dressed up like a bull. "At the end of the dance, when the toreador wins and the bull falls down, the girls will all take flowers out of their hair and toss them at the toreador." Otis was pleased with this idea. He could see himself dressed up like a bullfighter, waving his red cape in front of the bull and stepping nimbly aside when the bull charged at him. He would bow to the crowd while the girls showered him with flowers and the audience cheered. Maybe he was going to like the fiesta after all. Mrs. Gitler spoiled his daydream by saying, "Otis, since you do not care about folk dancing, you may be half the bull." The class laughed. "The front half or the back half?" Otis wanted to know. "The front half," answered Mrs. Gider. "Stewart, you may be the other half. George, you may be the toreador." Otis could see that George felt pretty good about being the toreador. Oh, well, thought Otis, being the front half of the bull was not so bad. It was better than folk dancing, and he and Stewy ought to have fun. Then Mrs. Gitler had the three boys practice bullfighting. Stewy put his hands on Otis's hips and the two boys charged at George, who twirled an imaginary cape in front of them. When George pretended to stab the bull with a sword, Otis and Stewy fell to the floor. "All right, Otis," said Mrs. Gitler. I don't think it is necessary for the bull to die with his front feet in the air. Falling to the floor is enough." Otis lay on the floor and watched George bow, as the girls pretended to throw flowers at him. He thought George looked very pleased with himself. When the bell rang for recess, Otis followed George around, singing: "Toreador-a, Don't spit on the floor-a, Use the cuspidor-a, That's what its for-a." Of course Stewy joined in. Otis was a little disappointed when George only grinned and said, "Aw, keep quiet." Otis Spofford . Copyright © by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.