Ellen Tebbits is a third grade school girl who finally finds a best friend in Austine Allen, the new student in her class who has moved from California, primarily because the two share a terrible secret. In fact, the two become such close companions that they decide to dress as twins on the first day of fourth grade. Unfortunately, Mrs. Allen is not nearly as good a seamstress as Mrs. Tebbits, and Austine’s dress looks terrible. The two argue about it, and thinking that Austine has untied her sash, Ellen slaps Austine in the face. Ellen wants desperately to be Austine’s friend again and later finds out that it was actually Otis Spofford who untied her sash, but she is too proud to apologize to Austine. Will the two ever be able to make up?
I have read many of Beverly Cleary’s books for children, and I will try to be honest. I really liked the three books about Ralph Mouse. The books about Henry Huggins are fairly good. The books about Ramona Quimby, two of which were Newbery Honor books, are, in my estimation, not as good, but they are still all right and probably appeal more to girls than boys. I did not care for the only book for which Clearly won the Newbery Award, Dear Mr. Henshaw. Personally, I thought that it was depressing, but a lot of people have found it useful. However, I did enjoy reading Ellen Tebbits. It presents a realistic picture of elementary school life and deals sensitively with some issues that children of that age face, yet is written in an interesting style that will capture the fancy of young readers.