Monday, July 03, 2006

Miss Osborne-the-Mop



I would often ask friends if they had read Miss Osborne-the-Mop (1969) by Wilson Gage a.k.a Mary Q Steele (thanks for the heads up Tam). Many would scoff at the title or mockingly gaze at the cover picture as being juvenile. Not one to judge books by their covers (well most of the times), I thought otherwise. I quite like the cover thank you very much. Miss Osborne-the-Mop is a story of how misfit children come into their own:
"Jody and Dill took a dim view of having to spend a whole summer vacation with each other-until the day they stumbled onto Jody's unexpected magical powers...When Jody brings a dust mop to life, it refuses to go back to the closet...Wacky and wonderful magic. "
Jody, the shy heroine overcomes her issues with confidence and weight and discovers hidden talents. She soon becomes fast friends with her initially distant cousin Dill and a certain Mop named Miss Osborne. By the end of the story, Jody is a heroine transformed, glowing in the strength and beauty that were hers to uncover. In my recollection, the depictions of food are mouth watering. Is there anything better than reading a well depicted plate of food?

Miss Osborne has a very special place in my childhood indeed.

Note: This lovely book has a devoted following of fans who have carried the story with them decades over. The comment thread below is worth a read!

39 comments:

  1. Anonymous11/14/2007

    I loved Miss Osborne. I rememeber pulling that book from the shelf of my elementary school library over and over--and thinking about the death of poor Miss Osborne often throughout my life.

    Will it all depend on magical glasses? And how will we know??

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  2. Thank you so much for your comment. It's so nice to hear from someone who loves Miss Osbourne too. I often think of that story too. It's interesting how we can never forget those obscure little tales from childhood! :)

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  3. Anonymous6/14/2008

    I was looking for information on this book because I wanted to know if the author had written anything else. My younger brother had gotten me this book for 10cents when he was in 3rd grade at a library book sale. The cover is green and has a imprint of Miss Osborne. It took me a few years to actually read this book. I think I was in 5 grade when he gave it to me and I think I was near 16 when I finally read it. It has been one of my most treasured books even before I read it. There was just something charming and enchanting to me about Miss Osborne. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in enjoying this story.

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  4. Thank you so much for your comment!

    OMG there are some similarities in our experience with Ms. Osborne.

    My brother placed an order for the book from Scholastic when he was in Grade 3! Ordering books from Scholastic was a huge deal for the kids in our school. I remember the joy we had waiting for the books to arrive. My brother chose Ms. Osborne because the cover picture and the idea of a talking mop seemed cool. It also took me a few years to actually read the book but I loved it when I did.

    So happy you shared your experience! Cheers!

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  5. I am 43 years old, and I just found and bought Miss Osborne the Mop from Amazon Used because I NEEDED IT!!! I am cleaning out a small shed near my house for use as a writing hide-out and needed to read again about Dill and Jody and Miss Osborne cleaning out that cabin. Unfortunately, I do not have a sink hole down which to throw the garbage.

    I also thought it had a description in chapter one of a girl eating breakfast out of a blue bowl and looking out the window at her father mowing the lawn. But I was mistaken and really disappointed. Whatever that other book was, that breakfast became for me the essence - the ontological - summer breakfast and I need that again, too.

    Any thoughts on what book that might have been? I read it at the same approximate time as Miss Osborne - somewhere between 1974 and 1980.

    Love the Blog! I miss my childhood, too.

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  6. Thank you so much for your lovely words Maureen! I have to find a copy of Miss Osborne too. I agree with you, in that it's a "need" that has to be fulfilled.

    The description of the blue bowl and the girl looking out the window sounds familiar but I can't place it. I'll mull it over or ask around, if I come up with anything, I'll definitely let you know.

    Your writing hide-out sounds wonderful.

    Come back again for a visit anytime. Cheers! :)

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  7. Hello Ladies :) I also am in my 40's...at 42.5 hehe AND, yep, I am a VERY fond lover of Jody's summer to her cousins place...and the description of all the food was real enough to make your mouth water and the description of the belly ache enough to make one take their own Pepto-Bismol at the time. I STILL have my copy AND I just got another one on eBay! This made it through life along with my Girl Scout badge books and Little Women :) I often wished for a someone who would of at least paid attention like the Mop attempted to LOL I have never met anyone else who read it much less thought about it throughout life- someone needs to make a Facebook fan page and attempt to contact Steele HAHA

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  8. MyMichelet: Hello there! I enjoyed reading your comment. It's lovely to meet wonderful fans of this obscure book who not only remember but cherish the story well into adulthood. I also like how you mentioned that certain books made it through life with you. So very true. I think the Facebook idea is fantastic btw.

    Cheers!

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  9. I wasn't alive any time close to when this book was published, but whne I was younger I found it in my grandparents' basement from when my mother and her siblings were little. Surprised to find that my grandparens actually had some interesting-looking books, I devoured it. After reading it I felt like a part of the story. There's a certain charm about children's books from back then that can't be duplicated.

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  10. Hello Mimi! Thank you for your comment. I'm proud that over the past few years we've had a lovely comment thread going here - all in honour of Miss Osborne-the-Mop. The book was first published in 1963 and along the way, many of us who've stumbled upon this tale are indeed still enchanted with it! That's something to behold.

    "There's a certain charm about children's books from back then that can't be duplicated."

    I couldn't agree with you more :)

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  11. OH my, my brother gave me this book when I was in fifth grade... I read it over and over... As a misfit myself, I identified with the kids. I loved when she looked in the mirror and didn't recognize herself (her aunt had no full length mirrors in the house).

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  12. Jeanne: thank you so much for sharing that memory with us. I love that there's a collection of Miss Osborne memories here. I loved that part where she looks in the mirror too. The changes she made over that summer were truly inspiring. I was a misfit kid too. :)

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  13. Anonymous8/18/2011

    Here it is 8-18-2011 and the comments are still coming. I will never forget this book and I can't believe it touched others the way it touched me. I remember to vivid description of the cake and the motorcycle... I wish I had a copy today. I always thing about this book at 42 years of age it is a bit odd but nonetheless reminds me of how much of an avid reader I have always been. I laughed out loud when I saw a picture of the book cover on this site. I never thought anyone cared about the characters in this story as much as I did. Glad to see I'm in good company.

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  14. Wow, thank you so much for your lovely comments. So moving. This comment thread for Miss Osborne is a testament to the depth of the affection and inspiration Wilson Gage inspired in young readers - we carried this affection through the decades. A cult following. It's truly amazing.

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  15. wow, here I am googling this book (I didn't even remember the name, just the premise of a magical mop) from my childhood and feel giddy with immaturity thinking of all you other people who shared the same fun-loving memory. yay! :D

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  16. Misty Boston: Great comment. Welcome! We Miss Osborne-ites have to stick together! :)

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  17. Oprah's Book Club asked what was your favorite childhood book and at 50ish I was taken immediately back to Miss Osbourne The Mop. This book was so magical, I lost myself in it many times as a child. - Janice

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  18. Oprah's Book Club asked what was your favorite childhood book. That question immediately took me back to the ~magical~ book "Miss Osbourne The Mop". I lost myself in this magic many times as a child and still remember loving Miss Osbourne The Mop so very much!

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    1. Hello Janice, thank you so much for your comments. It really was a magical book wasn't it? It's just one of those stories you can't forget. I lost myself in it as a child too. I need to find it and lose myself in it once again. :)

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  19. Anonymous12/30/2012

    I am almost 55 and Miss Osborne the Mop is one of my all time favorite books! I STILL read it about once a year. I read it to our two children and they have read it as well on their own. I have read it to two of our three grandchildren and just the other day my 13 year old grandson asked me if I would get him a copy of it for his 14th birthday! He said there is a lot to be learned in that book! Love it! And yes, when Miss Mop cracks her body and dies, I still get choked up a bit..

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    1. Such a lovely comment. Thank you so much for sharing with us. :) I love that you read it once a year!!

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  20. Anonymous3/11/2013

    I just found this book on my shelf - albeit with a green cover - and can't wait for my kids to read it. I also love how your original post was years ago and people keep posting.

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    1. Thank you for adding to our list of wonderful comments—they all are such a joy to read. I too love that people keep sharing their memories all these years later. How lovely that you found the book on your shelf!! :)

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  21. Not to be redundant, but this book also made an indelible impression on me as a child! I notice many of those who are nostalgic about the book are in the 40's. I was born in '68 which makes me 44 ( I think! ) I wonder if anyone else also has fond memories of Phantom Tollbooth, or Jerome ( the frog ) ?? I have found and ordered both recently out of nostalgia. One book whose title eludes me but which I would kill or die to find a copy of was another that captured my imagination as a child BIG TIME ( in part due to the amazingly intricate and elegant watercolor illustrations with fine line work ) It was about an eccentric old lady who lived high atop a hill in an elaborate Victorian mansion with a menagerie of animals. There is storm and an ensuing flood and sandbags, and the animals in some way save the day, making her less of a pariah. That's all I got. Anyone?? HELP!

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    1. Hello Dominick, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I just get so happy whenever there's a new comment on this post. If only Wilson Gage knew how much Ms Osborne meant to us all even decades after we fist picked up the book!

      I loved the Phantom Tollbooth (as did my brother who read it repeatedly) and will do a post on it soon. :)

      I have to look up Jerome the frog (sounds vaguely familiar). The story of the old lady is not one that I'm familiar with but does it ever sound amazing!! I'll research it and see if I can discover anything (fingers crossed).

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Do come back. :)

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  22. Mary U6/25/2013

    Hi & thank you for the review! I have good memories of this book also and just ordered it after reading your review and the comments here! I hope my kids like it too!

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Mary! What a wonderful comment. I hope you and your kids have a great time with Miss Osborne. :)

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  23. I read and re-read Miss Osborne-the-Mop when I was younger, and I'm hoping my Mom or sisters have my old copy because I don't, and I'm ready to read it again!

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    1. I'm with you Mich! Your comment made me smile. :) I'm ready to read it again too. It's one of those books you can always return too.

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  24. I was just about to do a recommendation for Miss Osborne on my blog (Planet of the Dolls) when I came across your review. I loved Miss Osborne, which I first read as a kid in the late 60's/early 70's. It was recommended to me by my older sister, so it has been around a while. Wilson Gage was actually a woman named Mary Q. Steele. She wrote lots of other books, but the only other one I read was "Dan and the Miranda", about a boy and a 'miranda' or spider. I remember liking the book alot, but not as much as Miss Osborne, which I have also read to my kids. They loved it too, and my 18 year old son still vividly remembers the description of the chocolate cake with orange icing, (which I do make sometimes!)!

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    1. Tam, thanks so much for your lovely comment. I did not know that Wilson Gage was actually Mary Q. Steele. I have to check out her other books. Miss Osborne was so much fun—and so dear to our hearts. And that cake!!! Oh how I loved her descriptions of food. And you make the chocolate cake with orange icing: now that's cool! Cheers :)

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  25. My teacher read it to the class when I was in 4th grade and I never forgot it...(that was about 1975 or 76)...Along with The mouse and the motercycle, Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats from Nimh...and How to Eat Fried Worms....and I LOVE All these stories today!! I even passed a few that I could find, on to my kids when they were about the same age....It's a great memory, the really good stories of your childhood!!

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    1. Hello Gaileileen! Thanks so much for your comment. I still love reading the books of my childhood too. So many great memories attached to them all.I love that your teacher read Miss Osborne to your class. In 4rth grade we were read Anne of Green Gables and the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Stories which I still revisit. Cheers :)

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  26. I am in the middle of writing a blog post about reading to my kids when they were young and I was mentioning books I'd read myself as a child. The book "Miss Osborne the Mop" popped into my head and I know I thoroughly enjoyed it but don't really remember the story. I googled it to refresh my memory and found this site. So neat to find others posting about it. I didn't read it to my kids as it hadn't entered my mind for these last 40 something years (I'm in my fifties). Now I feel the need to acquire a copy and reread it. Another favorite from childhood was "Harriet the Spy."

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    1. So happy you found us! Miss Osborne fans are always welcome here! :) Thanks so much for adding to our long list of Miss Osborne memories. I hope you find a copy of the book to enjoy once again. :)

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  27. Anonymous5/24/2014

    I have thought about this book so many times over my life but I could not remember the name of the book. Thank you so much for the review and thank google or I might have never remembered the name of the book. I thought it was Miss Mopsey or something like that but it had a huge impact on me growing up. I read it when it was new, I got it from the library when I was in the second grade to do a book report.
    My teacher had us make a shoebox diorama of a scene from a book, I made mine of the scene in the cabin. I remember how my mind was set free while I recreated the furniture out of match sticks and construction paper and bits of cloth found in my mother's sewing basket.
    I truly believe that experience helped me escape a fate worse than death, a life in the cycle of poverty!
    It made me love reading so much that from then on I was a voracious reader and while my brother and cousins and neighbors were getting in fights, stealing, drinking, doing drugs, having kids as teens out of wedlock, I was hiding in the closet reading books! I got out and put myself through college, I wanted no part of the trailer park life. Because of that, my children were never exposed to that gruesome life except as a cautionary tale about what happened to their family members who refused to read. My kids are grown now, one is a scientist, the other in law enforcement. Miss Osborne was truly magical and a testament to the power of books.

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    1. Hands down, yours is one of my all time favourite comments on this blog. Thank you so much. I was deeply moved and overjoyed reading your memories. Reading books helped me find my own voice and confidence too. There's nothing like escaping into a story. Reading was the one thing I was good at growing up: it helped my imagination and mind soar. I think it's beautiful that Miss Osborne's tale inspired so much in you. Cheers to you and your family!Thanks for stopping by, do come and visit soon! :)

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  28. Anonymous6/02/2014

    Well I am a latecomer to this thread but my sister and I read the book as children and absolutely loved it! Years later I went on a second hand bookshop hunt so I could read it to my kids who also adored it. Years later looking for a book that would keep our Cub Pack kids quiet at bedtime I brought along Miss Osborne wondering if it was maybe going to prove out of date for kids who were growing up plugged into their techno-devices. We read on camping trips in installments and they not only loved and remembered the storyline for weeks in between trips but on one trip when I couldn't find it and brought another book they were vocal in their disappointment. Miss Osborne stands the test of time. Great book. Loved it as an adult when I read it to the kids too.

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  29. Anonymous6/02/2014

    Phantom Tollbooth is a great book. I gave a copy to my kids and it was one of the few books that I didn't read aloud to them as the humor is largely spelling and play on words stuff that is better read to yourself. They loved it too.

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