Before I start, go here to win all sorts of cool (and perhaps some very adult fun) shit from TKOG!
Sorry guys. I know I promised Ramona and Her Father. But I’m full of suckage. In that I had it out, ready to read last week, and I had to do an impromptu cleaning of the house. And that means that whatever shit that was lying around got shoved in to any available closet/cabinet/drawer. And now I can’t find Ramona and Her Father. So, we’ll just start with the first of the Ramona books, -k?
How freaking adorable and old fashioned can one book be? Seriously. I read this quickly, but afterwards, my face hurt from smiling so hard. Do I need to introduce the characters to anyone? I mean, did anyone spend their childhood under a rock, or living in Duggar-esque denial of the rest of the world? OK, just in case Jessa Duggar is here reading, here’s a brief intro to the sisters.
Beezus Quimby. Real name, Beatrice, but called Beezus because that’s how her younger sister Ramona pronounced it when she was first learning to talk. Nine years old in this book. Very serious, studious child. Described as sensible. Helpful to her parents and is driven crazy by Ramona.
Ramona Quimby – four years old in this book. High energy, lots of imagination, trouble-making little girl.
There are only six chapters, and really each chapter can be read as a separate short story. They are all connected only by Beezus’ exasperation at Ramona’s antics. Chapter one: Beezus can’t stand reading Ramona her favorite book (Scoopy the Steam Shovel) over and over and over again. So she takes Ramona to the library, where Ramona promptly picks out another book on steam shovels. Heh. Beezus wants Ramona to pick out something girly, but Ramona won’t. Ramona ends up drawing all over the library book, and they have to purchase it. To which Ramona tells Beezus now she has to read it to her whenever she wants. But, actually Ramona, it’s Beezus’ book. Because it was taken out on her library card.
Chapter Two: Beezus takes an art class and Ramona tags along one day. She’s supposed to stay outside an play, but she comes in to watch Beezus paint. Beezus is feeling bad that everyone always says Ramona has a great imagination and leaves her feeling like she has none. When Ramona refuses to paint a picture of her imaginary pet lizard, Beezus tries it and ends up painting a wonderful imaginary candy-dragon.
Chapter Three: Beezus and her BFF, Henry Huggins are playing a very serious game of checkers. Ramona knocks over their checkerboard with her trike, then manages to lock Henry’s dog, Ribsy, in the bathroom. Beezus starts to feel like she doesn’t like Ramona.
Chapter Four: Beezus is watching Ramona while their mother leaves for a quick shopping trip. In that small half hour, Beezus manages to lose Ramona, but finds her in the basement, taking one bite out of every apple in a box of apples. (Because the first bite tastes best, you know) Rather than yell at her and make a fuss, Beezus and her parents decide to ignore Ramona. And mom makes a shite load of applesauce to use up the bitten apples. Ignoring Ramona works – in the short run, anyway.
Chapter Five: Beezus is helping mother out around the house one Saturday. Ramona, for some reason, starts chanting “I’m gonna have a party!” Turns out, Ramona wasn’t lying. She invited a cool dozen other neighborhood four year olds over for the afternoon without asking permission. Beezus and mother have to think fast to control all those kids on a rainy day. Beezus is a life-saver, getting the kids involved in a play parade. Ramona throws a tantrum because she doesn’t want to play parade. Then they give the kids applesauce for a snack, along with Fig Newtons. Ramona freaks out the other kids by saying there are worms in the Fig Newtons.
Chapter Six: It’s Beezus’ tenth birthday! She gets home from school to find that Mother hasn’t even baked a cake yet, because Ramona ruined it. So mother is working on a second cake, and Beezus reads Hansel and Gretl to Ramona. Ramona decides she’s going to be Gretel, and puts her rubber doll (the adorably named Bendix) into the cake while it’s cooking. Beezus is furious with Ramona for ruining her birthday. Mother’s sister, Aunt Beatrice, brings a bakery cake, but Beezus is feeling guilty for having such hateful feelings toward her sister. Mother and Aunt Beatrice assure her that they often didn’t like each other growing up and that her feelings are normal. Beezus is relieved.
- Ah….the old fashioned-ness of this book is marvelous. Aunt Beatrice is gay, but not a lesbian. A couch is a davenport! Beezus wishes she had a more common nickname like Patsy or Betty. The book is copyright 1955, by the way. My mother was seven years old in 1955! It’s so difficult for me to imagine that my mom and I could have enjoyed the same childhood books, but here we are.
- I wish I had a working scanner. The illustrations are delightful. Darling little pictures of tiny Ramona with unkempt hair and baggy overalls. Beezus looking much the same but in a dress and with a smattering of freckels. Also, Ramona’s angry face is such a winner.
- A lot of people are pro-Ramona and think of Beezus as a wet blanket. Or they’re pro-Beezus and think of Ramona as an annoyance. I’m neither. They’re just two little girls with two different personalities.
- Though I will admit to reading this book and wishing my own 3-year old son was more of a Beezus and less of a Ramona.
- I couldn’t remember where I’d heard the phrase Merry Sunshine used. It’s what I ask my kid (and sometimes, sarcastically, my husband) to be when he’s grumpy. Heh. It’s from this book! Ramona is being grumpy because she’s not allowed to put jelly on her mashed potatoes. Mother asks where’s her Merry Sunshine. And Ramona yells, “I am too a Merry Sunshine.”
- Ramona gets sent to her room a lot. A punishment that doesn’t always seem to work.
- Oh, and the nine-year old being responsible for the four-year old. That would never ever happen now. Especially with Ramona tagging along with Beezus to her art class with the expectation that Ramona will be left outside to play by herself. I mean, I know things were different back then. But geez.
- There are occasions where we see that Beezus is still a kid. She often believes that Ramona has a good point. Why can’t she put jelly on her mashed potatoes? The first bite of the apple is the best. And she does enjoy reading kids’ books to her.
- I think the theme of sibling rivalry will probably never grow old in kids’ books. And I remember being relieved hearing Mrs. Quimby and Aunt Beatrice talk about how they didn’t always like each other growing up. I felt a lot of rivalry with one of my sisters (Hi Carrie!) but now she’s one of my best friends.
Um yeah. So what took me so long to get to the Ramona books? I love pretty much everything about this book.