Now that Ramona is eight years old, she’s doing all kinds of things she’s never done before. She’s in a new school with a new teacher, and best of all, she takes the school bus-all by herself! But since her mother works and her daddy’s in art school, Ramona has to stay with old Mrs. Kemp every day until Beezus comes for her. And as if all that isn’t bad enough, she has to be nice to four-year-old Willa Jean.Ramona knows the family is depending on her to be brave with all these changes, but sometimes it’s hard. Can Ramona really handle a new school, help out a home, put up with Willa Jean, and still keep smiling? -(summary from book cover)
My Thoughts: I chose Ramona Quimby, Age 8 as one of my reads for the Award Winning Reads Challenge for a couple of reasons: Not only is it a 1982 Newbery Honor Award Winner, but Ramona Geraldine Quimby is my all-time favorite girl children’s book character. (I wrote about that here.) She’s in fantastic company, but she is a girl after my own heart. So when I saw that she had a couple of books that qualified for this challenge, I had to pick up one.
The wonderful Beverly Cleary has written several books about sweet Ramona. I love every one of them, but this is my favorite. Ramona feels like she is always being compared to her sister and like nobody really likes her that much. She wishes life were easier. Isn’t this how we all feel when we are young? Ms. Cleary identified a feeling that I felt when I was a young child. As a child, I latched onto Ramona because she went through some of the same things that I went through. Now, as a mother, Ramona is going through the things that my eight-year-old twin girls are going through, and I am lucky enough to be living it all over again. How wonderful and how lucky I am!
Here are some of the best things about this book:
- There’s always that one kid in the class that makes fun of you. In this instance, Ramona’s class has Danny. Ramona calls him Yard Ape. He’s so mean. He steals her shiny new pink eraser on the first day of school and won’t give it back. He makes fun of her big feet. He always irritates her.
- Learning to write cursive is hard, and not everyone can do it well. Poor Ramona’s last name starts with a Q. She has issues with making that Q and comes a some decision about that.
- There’s always a new trend. In Ramona’s case, the new trend of cracking a hard-boiled egg on your head turns out to be a disaster.
- People are always going to talk about you. Ramona hears someone important talking about her, and it devastates her. Until she learns to resolve the issue….much later, after lots of suffering. (ahem, VERY BIG issue with this age group, speaking from experience with my girls.)
- Nobody likes to be sick, but NOBODY wants or needs to throw up in front of other people, especially your third grade class. But guess what? Ramona pukes in front of her entire class and is so embarrassed! So she learns how to deal with the embarrassment.
Ramona goes through a million, bazillion things in this little book (really, in the entire series) but it is the way Ms. Cleary presents each event and the way that Ramona deals with it that is so incredible. As a child, I laughed at Ramona while I learned from her. As a mother, I watch my children do the same thing. They are listening to Ramona and Ms. Cleary in some instances where a mother’s words just aren’t enough. Because mother’s are supposed to say nice, encouraging, and great things to their child. Ms. Cleary, Ramona’s family, and Ramona’s teachers are saying the same things that I am, and my children are listening to them.
I’m not going to get on a big soapbox about childrens literature or middle-grade literature or YA literature and how important it is (because I could, but now is not the time)…but it is very possibly to enjoy the heck out of a book that means something big. This is one of those for me. I love Ramona Geraldine Quimby to pieces. That little kid has done things for me that she will never know, and now she is doing the same things for my two girls. AND, even better, we are all enjoying Ramona together. My kids are all excellent readers, but just to spend time together, I’ve been reading this book out loud to them, little by little, a few pages at the time. It started with a couple of minutes before I would drop them off at school in the mornings, and now that it is summertime, we are almost finished with it. It is one of the best things ever.
I chose this book for this challenge because it is one of my all-time favorites, and it is has been a big part of my life for more than two decades. Now, it is even more present in my life as I am enjoying it again with my children and with this challenge. I would LOVE it if somebody else, some other *adult* person like me, would pick it up and re-read it.