word craft


Emily Upham’s Revenge

Emily Upham's Revenge

William Mor­row, 1979
illus. by Paul O. Zelin­sky
out of print; look for this book at your favorite library or used bookseller

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What’s this book about?

Prop­er lit­tle Emi­ly is sent to stay with her wealthy and dis­agree­able uncle in nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry Mass­a­chu­setts, but she is head­ed off by the mis­chief-mak­ing Seth Marple, who leads her on a riotous escapade.

Story Behind the Story

There was a time I was very inter­est­ed in the his­to­ry of children’s lit­er­a­ture and spent a lot of time col­lect­ing and read­ing the old books, par­tic­u­lar­ly those from the Nine­teenth Cen­tu­ry. I would, in time, amass about three thou­sand of these books which I sub­se­quent­ly gave to the children’s col­lec­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Con­necti­cut. The point being, Emi­ly Upham’s Revenge was mod­eled on some of these old-fash­ioned girls’ books, full of their stiff, lec­tur­ing, and restric­tive moral­i­ty. In Emi­ly Upham’s Revenge I tried to turn that heavy tone upside down—to make it fun­ny. Then too, I had good friends who lived in North Brook­field, Mass­a­chu­setts. There was an old rail­way sta­tion there which was fun to vis­it. All these things came togeth­er in the book.

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Awards and Recognition

  • Spe­cial Award, Mys­tery Writ­ers of Amer­i­ca, 1979
  • Starred Review, School Library Jour­nal, 1978
  • Book of the Month, PCRRT, 1978


“… with great sus­pense and good cliffhang­ers. Excel­lent use of dia­logue and ter­rif­ic descrip­tion of char­ac­ters. One of the best books I’ve read for a while. … keeps you on the edge of your seat and I could­n’t put it down. … Many sur­pris­ing twists with an excel­lent sur­prise end­ing.” (Bet­ter World Books)

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