Shelves: children I have clear memories of reading this book as a child! But interestingly, reading it as an adult, it mostly just struck me as old-fashioned. Many of the anecdotes take place within classrooms, and I was so surprised to find myself feeling that the classroom dynamics were inappropriate, even though they reminded me of just I have clear memories of reading this book as a child! Many of the anecdotes take place within classrooms, and I was so surprised to find myself feeling that the classroom dynamics were inappropriate, even though they reminded me of just what my own elementary school days were like.
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The story revolves around the antics of the title character, a precocious fourth-grader with a knack for getting into trouble.
Otis lives with his mother, who is often absent from the household due to teaching classes at her dance school, and therefore Otis is required to entertain himself, by "stirring up a little excitement".
Plot summary[ edit ] Otis Spofford is a young boy with a propensity for causing trouble. He does not have any brothers or sisters and he lives with his mother.
One of the reasons why Otis likes to cause trouble is because he yearns to make life more exciting. Unfortunately, his behavior means that he does not have any close friends and his classmates are reluctant to form close bonds with him. The book is also about how Otis torments his classmate, Ellen Tebbits. He annoys her because she performs well in school and exhibits excellent behavior. In one instance, he sabotages the class science project, which consists of feeding cafeteria food to one rat and bread and soda to another, and monitoring their growth.
Otis feeds the underfed rat himself, hoping that it will get soda pop served in the cafeteria. His teacher, Mrs. Gitler, becomes wise to this and tries to get the culprit to confess.
Otis opens his mouth and is stunned when Ellen steps forward. Ellen was secretly feeding the rat as well. Near the end of the book he finally "gets his comeuppance," as Mrs. Gitler has long predicted. This act turns nearly the entire class against him, and for the first time Otis does not relish the attention he receives from his actions. Otis eventually feels bad about what he did to Ellen when she bursts into tears and flees the classroom.
The two girls later accost a dejected Otis on the steps of his apartment and offer him his shoes in exchange for an apology to Ellen, and a promise that he will stop pestering her. Otis concedes, but only after the girls are leaving reveals he had two fingers crossed behind his back the entire time; clearly, he means to pester Ellen for a long time to come.
The book opens when Ellen heads to her dance class at the studio run by the mother of a classmate, Otis Spofford , who is always teasing her. When she arrives, she heads to change in a broom closet so the other girls cannot see her terrible secret: Ellen is wearing woolen underwear. Soon, the two become best friends. During summer vacation, Ellen and Austine decide to dress as twins on their first day back to school. The plan is for their mothers to make identical dresses for them. Ellen gets irritated and finally slaps Austine in the lunch line when her sash comes undone. Unfortunately, Austine was innocent; Otis had pulled on her dress.