Monday, November 2, 2015

Evenings with Ramona

My childhood copies of Beverly Cleary's books are well-loved to say the least.  These books conjure happy memories of hours of free reading and of trips to the B.Dalton bookstore at Tri-County Mall where I thanked God that I did not live in Canada where those kids had to pay so much more for each book.  I've been tempted by the Cleary box sets at Costco on several occasions, but it seems so special to be sharing my actual books with my actual kids.  Tough to resist my second grade handwriting on the inside covers (usually my name written several times, often in an experimental cursive intended, I recall, to mimic my teacher's lovely script).

When my oldest was in kindergarten and first grade, I read all of the Ramona and Henry Huggins titles to him.  My middle guy got squeezed out of that tradition when he was at that stage.  Surprise, surprise.  But, happily, I am back on track reading the Ramona books to my kindergarten daughter and second-grade son (better late than never).  Big brother has found reason to be in close proximity for most of these read-alouds as well.
Is there a character more lovable than Ramona?  Her energy, her zest for life, her creativity, her spirit, her honesty.  I'm going to dedicate a long and more thoughtful post (or series of) to Ramona once the kids and I finish all the books.  For now, I'll just share two moments from a chapter of Ramona the Pest.

Ramona proudly shows and tells.
Miss Binney smiled encouragingly.  "Is there something you would like to tell us about your doll?"

"I can really wash her hair," said Ramona.  "It's sort of green because I gave her a blue rinse."

"And what do you wash it with?" asked Miss Binney.

"Lots of things," said Ramona, beginning to enjoy speaking in front of the class.  "Soap, shampoo, detergent, bubble bath.  I tried Dutch Cleanser once, but it didn't work."

"What is your doll's name?" asked Miss Binney.

"Chevrolet," answered Ramona.  "I named her after my aunt's car."

Ramona's frenemy Howie Kemp forgets to bring something for the first day of Show and Tell.  Urged by Mrs. Kemp and her mother, Ramona runs inside her house to grab an item to lend to Howie:  an old stuffed rabbit that her cat likes to beat up and chew upon.  Miss Binny tries to liven the bunny up with a bright red ribbon, the ownership of which becomes a source of conflict between Ramona and Howie.

"Is there something you would like to tell us about your bunny?" asked Miss Binney.

"No," said Howie.  "I just brought it because my mother made me."

"I can tell you something about your bunny," said Miss Binney.  "It has had lots of love.  That's why it's so worn."

Ramona was fascinated.  In her imagination she could see the cat lying on the carpet with the rabbit gripped in his teeth while he battered it with his hind feet.  The look that Howie gave the rabbit was somehow lacking in love.  Ramona waited for him to say that it wasn't his rabbit, but he did not.  He just stood there.

I could barely read that final paragraph aloud for laughing.

Here's to more cozy evenings with my old friend Ramona and three of her twenty-first century fans.


  1. I love Ramona. N. and I left off after Ramona the Brave (my favorite, I think), and need to get back to them -- we had taken a break for a couple of titles that were appealing to both older kiddos.

  2. Can't describe my love for this! Beezus and Ramona was my first ever chapter book that I read at the ballet studio. I've been obsessed with sharing my love of Beverly Cleary since then and recall many a trip to the bookstore where I pleaded for more books based on the rationalization that I deserved more books since they were so much "cheaper" here than in Canada!