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Really Truly Ruthie is the companion book for Ruthie Smithens; it is considered an extension of the Kit series. It was included with the Ruthie doll when the doll was available for purchase; with the collection's archival, it was able to be purchased separately until it was retired.


From Kit's series[]


Chapter by Chapter Summary[]

Chapter One: Apples and Kindness[]


Kit announces Ruthie delivering a crate of apples.

As Ruthie walks to the Kittredge's house with a crate of apples, she thinks how the phrase "once upon a time" beings all wonderful adventures. Ruthie is happy that it's December 26, which is her favorite day (instead of Christmas or her birthday); this is because it's the special day where Ruthie, Kit, and their mothers go together on an outing in downtown Cincinnati and she can't wait for the day to start. Ruthie reaches Kit's house and knocks on the door. Kit opens the door and announces Ruthie's presence to the rest of the boarders, and tells Ruthie she's just in time to say goodbye to her father; Dad's been hired to drive Mr. and Mrs. Bell to Florida since the couple can't drive themselves (though they have a car). As Kit drags Ruthie along through her house, Ruthie ponders how her house can be too tidy, calm, and quiet sometimes. That's why Ruthie loves Kit's house so much; something is always happening. There is chaos and commotion in the house as Mr. Kittredge, Charlie, and Mr. Peck study a road map, Ms. Hart and Ms. Finney help Mrs. Kittredge with the dishes, Mrs. Howard tries unsuccessfully to give Mrs. Bell Stirling's hot water bottle, and Mr. Bell shakes everyone's hand goodbye.

Mr. Kittredge and the Bells soon drive off, and Ruthie asks Kit how long her dad will be gone. Kit explains her dad will take four days to drive to Florida, and another four days to drive back home. Ruthie calculates that Kit's dad will be back on January 2nd, which Kit confirms. The two share a quick, uneasy glance at each other. They both know Mr. Kittredge needs to to be back with the mortgage payment on the 2nd, or else the Kittredges will lose their home to the bank.[2]. Ruthie's father, Mr. Smithens, let the the Kittredges know that he's held off the bank as long as possible, but they must pay some of the overdue mortgage money after the holidays.

Ruthie changes to a nicer subject and asks Kit if she remembers what day it is. Kit happily says she could never forget their special day, and the two go to ask Kit's mother when she'll be ready. In the kitchen, Stirling and Charlie lift up the crate of apples. Stirling bets that Ruthie brought the apples over and Charlie teases Ruthie that she waved a magic wand to bring them over. Ruthie explains her family got a lot of apples this Christmas and her mother was hoping Kit's family would use some of them so they wouldn't go to waste. Charlie says that nothing is wasted around there as he grabs an apple for himself and Stirling, and Mrs. Kittredge thanks Ruthie. Secretly relieved the Kittredges accepted the apples without a fuss, Ruthie recalls the conspiracy of kindness she and her mother were in. The two had often tried to find ways to help the Kittredges whenever they could, but Ruthie had recently learned the hard way that generosity was tricky[3] and she had to be careful and respectful when giving things to Kit and her family.


Mrs. Howard insists that Mrs. Kittredge attend the special day with Kit and she will complete the chores.

Kit reminds her mother about their special day and Mrs. Kittredge grows worried. She tells Kit she's unsure if she can go as she goes through a list of chores she has to do. Just as Ruthie and Kit's hopes fade, Mrs. Howard tells Margaret she mustn't think of missing her special day and explains she, Stirling, and Charlie can do the chores. The boys happily agree to help and Mrs. Howard tells the girls to run off now, shaking her soapy spoon while doing so. The trio head off to Ruthie's house to pick up Mrs. Smithens and they all go to downtown Cincinnati.

The two families had made an agreement to do only free activities today, so the girls begin with window shopping. Kit points out a snowy mountain in one of the windows and Ruthie takes a look at it. On the mountain, Ruthie also sees a snowman being pulled in a sled. Ruthie comments that the display reminds her of the silver forest the twelve dancing princesses sneaked through on their way to the ball. While Kit is sometimes impatient with Ruthie's interest in fairly tales, today Kit just smiles and asks Ruthie, "Don't you wish you could be in that sleigh, flying down the mountain?" Ruthie shares her personal wish to ride a sleigh like the one in the display. The girls and their mothers spend the rest of their day walking around downtown and Ruthie feels completely happy. She thinks that if she were in a fairy tale and had three wishes, she'd use them all to wish that they could all be as relaxed and carefree as they were now.

The Smithens drop Kit and her mother off at Uncle Hendrick's house and as they say goodbye, Mrs. Smithens manages to sneak their picnic leftovers into the Kittredge's basket. As the Smithens drive off, Ruthie wishes there was more they could do to help and she asks her mother if they could give them money. Mrs. Smithens says they've offered to multiple times, but Kit's parents have refused each time. She explains all they can give them is apples and kindness.

The two agree to pick up Mr. Smithens from the bank. When they arrive, Mr. Smithens is reading some papers and frowning. His face brightens up when he sees his family coming to greet him and after Ruthie hugs her father, she runs over to his chair and beings to spin. her father tells her mother he still has a few more hours of work as Ruthie continues to spin. When she tries to stop herself by grabbing onto the desk, she accidentally knocks over some folders. When Ruthie gathers them up, she notices the name KITTREDGE on a note attached to the folder. Ruthie can't help but read the note and grows dizzy with dismay when she realizes the note reads the Kittredges are to be evicted on December 28th; when the bank said the holidays, they meant the Christmas ones.

Ruthie begins to panic, wondering what she can do to help them. Kit's father won't be back in time, the family won't accept her family's money, and her father can't delay the bank any longer. Ruthie knows that apples and kindness aren't going to help--the Kittredges need money and fast.

Chapter Two: Goofy Ruthie[]

On the way back home, Ruthie asks her mother if she can be dropped off at Kit's house for a quick talk. At Kit's house Charlie opens the door for Ruthie and teasingly says "long time, no see." Ruthie blushes, wondering if Charlie is hinting she was a pest, but she pushes it out of her mind and asks where Kit is. Charlie answers and Ruthie rushes to the kitchen where Kit is alone, peeling an apple. Kit is surprised to see Ruthie but Ruthie tells Kit about the bank note before Kit can say anything. Kit, whose family thought the bank meant after the New Year's holidays instead of the Christmas holidays, is shocked. Ruthie offers her ten dollars she got for Christmas but Kit declines, explaining their mortgage bill is more than two hundred dollars.

Kit takes off her apron, saying she'll have to tell her mother the news. Ruthie suggest her mother could ask Uncle Hendrick for the money, but Kit explains they already asked him and he refused. Kit slumps into a chair and Ruthie thinks she's never seen her friend look so defeated. Kit shares her sorrows, saying how her Uncle Hendrick will gloat if they lose their house (and their main source of income, the boarders). and it will be so humiliating. Ruthie thinks back to the sight of furniture dumped on the sidewalk due to an eviction, and sympathizes with her friend. Ruthie asks if her Aunt Millie would lend the money. Kit nods and Ruthie offers the use of her phone, but Kit explains Aunt Millie doesn't have a phone and lives miles away from the nearest one. A letter wouldn't arrive on time; the only way to reach Aunt Millie would be for Kit's mother to ride the train, but Kit wonders where her mother would get the train fare.

Ruthie gets an idea and suggests that she and Kit could both go on the train ride using Ruthie's Christmas money. Kit tells Ruthie to stop being silly, but Ruthie tells her plan. They can both go on the train using Ruthie's money with the excuse that they were both at each other's houses, go to Aunt Millie's and come back, then give the money to Ruthie's father to put in the bank and solve the problem without any worry or shame. Kit says it's a crazy plan, but Ruthie says "Crazy makes sense at a time like this." Kit's mother will still be over Uncle Hendrick's house the next day and Ruthie's mother will be volunteering the entire day, so Kit and Ruthie can hopefully leave and arrive back home without anyone noticing. Kit agrees to the plan, hardly believing she's doing such a thing and Ruthie leaves before Kit can change her mind.

The next morning, Ruthie is waiting at the station, wondering where Kit is. She looks around for Kit, but instead sees Charlie. Ruthie tries to hide behind her pocket book, but Charlie manages to find her. He tells Ruthie the jig is up and he's here to take Ruthie home, but Ruthie doesn't move. Charlie explains Kit told him their plan and he's called off the whole thing, but Ruthie still doesn't move. Charlie sighs, telling Ruthie that while it's nice to help, this isn't a fairy tale that Ruthie is the hero of but real life and Ruthie is just a kid. While Ruthie had sort of thought of the trip like an adventure, she doesn't admit it to Charlie and tells him she's serious with the plan. Charlie calls Ruthie ridiculous at trying to find Aunt Millie without even knowing where she lives. Ruthie says people will help her--and she's already purchased two round-trip tickets. Charlie gives an exasperated sigh and tells Ruthie that he'll go with her to Mountain Hollow then.

Ruthie looks down at her lap so Charlie can't see her expression. Ruthie knows everyone sees her as goofy Ruthie, the Ruthie who is more in home in fairy tales then in reality. While Ruthie is seen as nice and funny, she's not considered practical or capable. Everyone, even Kit and Stirling, often think that Ruthie isn't able to understand the damage of the Depression since her dad still has his job (and in Stirling's case, is still present). But people underestimate Ruthie's compassion and most of the time, Ruthie pretends to be daffy and flighty to cheer others up. Ruthie is tired of not being taken seriously, however, and as she looks up at Charlie's eyes, she decides that instead of giving the money to her dad, she will give the money straight to Mrs. Kittredge. This way she can show everyone she could be serious. Ruthie agrees that Charlie can travel with her as she picks up her stuff and heads further into the station.


Ruthie and Charlie on the train to Mountain Hollow.

Aboard the train, Charlie asks Ruthie how she knew how to buy the tickets. Ruthie explains that she often took a train to her horseback riding lessons which are across the boarder. Charlie teases Ruthie, saying she has to know how to ride a horse in order to be a fairy tale princess. Ruthie, annoyed, grows more determined to get the money. Ruthie is too nervous to read her new fairy tale book East of the Sun and West of the Moon, so she talks to the other passengers in the train. She shares her lunch with two teenage girls and entertains a little boy on the train. His mother thanks Ruthie, explaining she needs the energy to later dance at a celebration her town holds in between Christmas and New Year's.

When the conductor announces the next stop is Lewis Falls, Ruthie notices the stop after Lewis Falls is theirs. Ruthie asks Charlie how to get from Poncton to Mountain Hollow. Charlie doesn't know, since their family usually drives from home, but a fellow passenger tells the two there's a fast walking route at Lewis Falls. Charlie is doubtful, but Ruthie happily takes the man's advice.

The two get off at Lewis Falls and Ruthie begins to grow doubtful as well. The station is run down; the only other passengers who got off, the two teenage girls, have immediately ran off; and the walking path is more of a muddy gully that has low-hanging tree branches gnarled up along the path. The branches remind Ruthie of the brambles that grew around Sleeping Beauty's castle, but she doesn't mention her thought to Charlie--who still already thinks she's a goofy Ruthie and now a less-then-reliable guide.

Chapter Three: East of the Sun and West of the Moon[]


Ruthie and Charlie on the path to Aunt Millie's house.

As Ruthie and Charlie walk up the hill, Charlie asks Ruthie if it was right of her to trust the old man on the train. Ruthie says yes with more confidence then she feels, and adds she wishes they didn't have to walk all the way. As she says that, the two hear jingling and look behind to see the two teenagers from the train, now riding a sleigh with their father. They offer the two a ride as far as Ferndale, up to a split road where Ruthie and Charlie can continue on to Mountain Hollow. The two happily accept the ride. While it is still faster for Ruthie and Charlie to walk since the horse is so slow, the ride is cheerful with everyone singing and they both agree it was better than walking.

After the sleigh drops Ruthie and Charlie off, the two continue to walk the road. Charlie points out as they trudge up the hill that there isn't a sign pointing to Mountain Hollow and they are blindly trusting strangers again. Charlie tells Ruthie that while being kind to strangers and having them help you out later on worked in fairy tales, it doesn't work out in real life. Ruthie sighs and says Charlie must think she's silly, but Charlie says she's more mistaken then silly. He says that not everyone is nice and honest like Ruthie and people are going to take advantage of Ruthie; if Ruthie is always foolishly optimistic, then she's going to get let down. Ruthie understands that the world had let Charlie down; instead of going to college he's had to work from dawn everyday. Struggling to express her thoughts, Ruthie explains she doesn't believe life always works out happily like in fairy tales and she doesn't like them just for the wishes and happy endings. She explains she likes them because they show that no matter what happens to people, it's how they act along the way that matters. Ruthie adds that she'd rather be foolish but hopeful instead of smart but stingy and distrustful (likely in reference to Uncle Hendrick).

Charlie is silent with thought until he recognizes the area near Aunt Millie's house. The two grow more cheerful as they approach the house, but begin to despair when they see it's quiet and empty. Ruthie worries that if they don't find Millie, then the trip will be a waste: the Kittredges won't get the money they needed, and Ruthie would confirm everyone's opinion that she's useless. Trying to sound sure of herself, Ruthie suggests that Millie is probably visiting some friends. As the two get to town though, all of the other houses are also deserted. Charlie mentions that the town is like an enchanted village in one of Ruthie's fairy tales where everyone disappears between Christmas and New Year's. Ruthie suddenly remembers the party the mother on the train mentioned and wonders if Mountain Hollow is having a similar party. Ruthie and Charlie go to the town church and are relieved to see the church is full of life.

When they enter the church, everyone at the party stares at them. Aunt Millie is surprised to see Charlie (calling him by his full name) and introduces herself to Ruthie. She offers Ruthie and Charlie something to eat before they ask what they came here for. As Ruthie eats and talks with other girls her age, Aunt Millie spots the East of the Sun and West of the Moon book in Ruthie's basket and mentions it's one of her favorites. Ruthie is surprised to see an adult who read fairy tales and Aunt Millie explains that fairy tales have the wisdom of the ages in them.

Aunt Millie then asks them what they want and Charlie explains the situation back home. Aunt Millie happily agrees to lend the money to the Kittredges. Charlie promises they'll pay the money back, but Aunt Millie tells him not to worry too much about it as she doesn't have much to buy anyways. She tells the banker to open up the bank for her as she needs to make a transaction. When he points out the time, she threatens to tell everyone how long he took to understand his fractions and everyone laughs.

Chapter Four: Wishes Come True[]

When Aunt Millie takes out the money, she asks who will hold the money. Charlie says he thinks Ruthie should hold the money; Ruthie is happily surprised at Charlie's trust in her. As Ruthie puts the money in her pocketbook, Aunt Millie tells her that this is a great responsibility, but she's already proven her trust by coming to at Mountain Hollow. Ruthie promises to bring the money to Cincinnati, but the banker points out that they missed the last train.

Ruthie and Charlie start to panic and the banker mentions there's one more train going to Cincinnati--the only problem is that it won't stop at Poncton or Lewis Falls. Aunt Millie is determined to flag the train down, so she rallies up the whole town. People begin to pile into trucks and sleighs as everyone holds an unlighted lantern to see by.


The train is stopped to allow Ruthie and Charlie to board and return to Cincinnati.

In the next hour, Ruthie rides in the high seat of the sleigh that--while not the sleigh she admired in the store window--still is better than how she imagined the sleigh ride to be. When they arrive at the Poncton station, everyone lights up their lanterns and start to swing them when they see the train approach. The train stops and the conductor asks harshly what's going on. Aunt Millie calmly tells the conductor they have two more passengers for him and the conductor, recognizing Millie, sheepishly allows Ruthie and Charlie to board. As they board the train, everyone starts to yell goodbye and continues to wave as Ruthie looks out the window.

During the trip home, Ruthie falls asleep despite her intention to stay awake, and Charlie holds the pocketbook for her. When they reach the Smithenses' house, Charlie hands Ruthie back her pocketbook and tells her she can give the money to her dad as planned. Ruthie tells Charlie that she wants to give the money right into Mrs. Kittredge's hands and Charlie allows her. On the way to the house Charlie thanks Ruthie, saying his family is lucky to have a friend like her. His words remind Ruthie why she went to get the money. It wasn't for praise or glory, but rather because the Kittredges are her friends. Ruthie realizes she would feel disrespectful if she got praise from Mrs. Kittredge as she also realizes she only wanted Kit and Charlie to know what she did. Ruthie tells Charlie her wish to have her actions kept a secret for as long as possible and he complies. Ruthie thanks Charlie for coming with her and mentions she would do the whole thing again if she could. Charlie laughs and agrees with Ruthie, calling her "goofy Ruthie"; this time however, the name feels like praise.

A week passes, and Ruthie, Kit and Stirling are looking at the trees and trying to figure which one they should build their tree house in. Kit is unsure if they will ever be able to build a tree house, but Ruthie tells Kit that wishes take a while to come true. The trio heads inside to see Mr. Kittredge talking about his trip. He's surprised and happy to know that the family was saved from eviction and he thanks Charlie for his actions. Charlie looks at Ruthie and asks her to answer a question, since she's an expert on wishes. He asks if he can override someone else's wish to grant his own--and if Ruthie says yes, then it would grant his own wish. Kit adds it would also grant her own wish as well.

Everyone else is confused by Charlie's question, but Ruthie smiles a tiny bit and reluctantly nods. Charlie then starts to tell the story about Ruthie going to get the money--not the Ruthie they know, but really truly Ruthie. He states his story has a happy ending, and like all wonderful adventures it begins, "once upon a time..."

Looking Back: Apples and Kindness: Getting Through the Great Depression[]

Discusses charitable acts people did for one another during the Great Depression. Topics covered:

  • People who were not affected by the Depression having to be cautious when trying to help their friends and neighbors without insulting their pride.
  • The Secret Helpers, a group of New Jersey girls who would secretly give gifts of food and clothes to families in need in their small town.
  • The government programs Franklin Roosevelt designed to give people jobs rather than hand-outs, and the varied responses they received.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt's newspaper column My Day, in which she would write about the people she met in Washington D.C. and her travels around America.
  • Letters Mrs. Roosevelt received because of her column, with many letters coming from those who were asking for specific items or new jobs.
  • The surprise parties neighbors held for a family in need, and the rent parties that were held to help raise money to pay rent payments.
  • People who rented their homes for those who needed them, including one teacher who took in a young girl who had wanted to attend high school.

Items associated with Really Truly Ruthie[]



  1. The book explicitly states it starts December 26th, and ends the day after Jack Kittredge returns from Florida on January 2nd.
  2. This was explained in Kit's Surprise
  3. This recalls the event of Kit becoming upset at Ruthie gifting her the red holiday dress in Kit's Surprise.