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Literature / Emily's Runaway Imagination

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Emily's Runaway Imagination is a book published in 1961 by Beverly Cleary about a young girl growing up on a farm. As the title suggests, she has a crazy imagination. The main plot revolves around her wishing for a library in the little town of Pitchfork, Oregon followed by the approval and setting up of said library. In between fundraising tea parties and collecting book donations, Emily manages to get herself into quite a few interesting predicaments.


This work contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – Animal Care: In an effort to clean up the family's plow horse into a "snow-white steed," Emily bathes the horse with Clorox bleach, including soaking the horse's tail in a bucket of bleach solution. Needless to say, this is not how you should bathe any animal; while a mild enough bleach solution might not do any long-term damage, if nothing else a soak in Clorox solution would not do the condition of the horse's tail any favors.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Fong Quock, which leads to embarrassment for Emily in the first chapter.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Emily makes the embarrassing faux pas of trying to correct Fong, whose heavy accent means he pronounces the name of her dog Prince as "Plince." This leads everyone in town, including Emily's parents, to start calling the dog Plince. Plince himself doesn't seem to mind, but Emily is mortified.
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  • G-Rated Drug: Emily feeding the hogs rotten apples, which have fermented and become alcoholic.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Emily hears that you can make your pie pastry lighter by adding a pinch of baking powder. So she adds a pinch to the crust she's making for her custard pie - and then another couple of pinches just to be careful - and her pie crust floats to the top of the pie when she cooks it. Disaster is ultimately averted, however: the pie turns out delicious, though, and Emily tells the crowd at the potluck dinner that she's invented "upside down pie".
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Emily's mother and father.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Pete Ginty, who has no qualms about teasing the hell out of little girls, but also holds up the heavy pail of bleach solution to soak a horse's tail in for her.
  • Miss Imagination: Emily.
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  • Odd Couple: A mild case with Emily and her cousin June. June's usually very calm and rational and likes to do just about everything the exact opposite way Emily does.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Emily bemoans this as the consequence of living in such a close-knit farm town - since everyone knows everyone and not much happens, nobody ever lives anything down.


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