"Why Beezus, of course you have an imagination!" Or, Beezus and Ramona

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.  

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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
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27 Responses to "Why Beezus, of course you have an imagination!" Or, Beezus and Ramona

  1. Emily says:

    I'm also neither pro-Beezus or pro-Ramona. I liked them both for different reasons. The illustrations came back to me as soon as you mentioned them. One of my favorites (from one of my favorite chapters) is the one in which Ramona threw herself the party and there's a line of kids in a parade with a sulky looking Ramona in the back.On another note, a few weeks back, I discovered this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493949/I'm scared.

  2. Sadako says:

    I was more of a Beezus. And I was one of those kids who wished that Fudge's parents would man/woman up and stick up for Peter a lot more often and I loved when Arthur finally smacked D.W."When Ramona refuses to paint a picture of her imaginary pet lizard, Beezus tries it and ends up painting a wonderful imaginary candy-dragon. "I actually always loved this one, and remembered thinking, "Go Beezus" when she did it. Also, wasn't there a part where Beezus started to draw a winged horse and everyone made fun of her because it looked like that Mobil gas horse?

    • Sara says:

      It was just that one boy Wayne who made fun of her for drawing the horse. But it was enough to really get to Beezus.

  3. nikki says:

    At first I was like NO WAY!!!! But OMG Ginnifer Goodwin as Aunt Beatrice….swoooooooooon. They'd better make it set in 1955 and not modernize it. And yes, that illustration was one of the many priceless ones!

  4. Ramona always has the best names for her dolls. Isn't one of her other dolls named Chevrolet? I hope you find "Ramona and her Father" Nikki. I really enjoy your recaps.

  5. ali says:

    Ah, Ramona! I really don't remember this book (I'm sure I read it but it isn't as vivid as the others). Beverly Cleary is so wonderfully old fashioned (though I find it much less charming in her books for "older readers"). I have to agree with Emily that this movie thing looks pretty scary.

  6. Caroline says:

    I adore Beverly Cleary, but most especially the Ramona books. I had a gorgeous Random House Treasury of Humor book that featured the birthday party chapter, and that still is one of my favourite stories of all time. Chevrolet! I love love love the illustrations.

  7. Ramona kicks ass that's all I have to say!

  8. hmm..yeah..i think that book really rocks! X3 i wish i had an old book like that..XD anyway..nice storytelling…you really made a good job.i can imagine it just by reading your posts.XD

  9. Oh my goodness! I thought I'd read all the Ramona books, but after reading this recap, realized I skipped this one! Must — go — to — library! Man, even just reading about reading about Ramona puts a smile on my face!

  10. Emily says:

    This was one of the only Ramona books that I never owned. I had a little Ramona and a little Beezus in me growing up. Good times. :)Random Ramona memory: IN he book where she barfs at school, I always had to skip the chapter because I hated the very idea of vomit when I was a child. Yep, I was a total Stacey in that respect…

  11. Kathryn says:

    I was also a fan of both sisters. I still re-read these books whenever I'm home sick from work, or homesick for my childhood. Thanks for such a good recap 🙂

  12. Michelle says:

    I LOVED the Ramona books growing up. This book is one of my favorites now because it really lets you get into Beezus' head while the others made it out that she was so boring.Great recap!

  13. Ashley says:

    Hi Nikki, I've been quietly following for a little while and I love your blog.The Ramona books have been a favorite of mine for way too long. I wanted to ask if you'd read either of Beverly Cleary's memoirs? "Girl from Yamhill" is about her younger years and "My Own Two Feet" covers her life in college and beyond. They're so lively and adorable and definitely worth a read if you hadn't encountered them yet.

  14. nikki says:

    Hi Ashley, thanks for following. The funny thing about those Beverly Clearly bios is that they are sitting right on the shelf in the kids' section of my local library – right next to the Lego table that my son is crazy about. So every time he's there, playing with the Legos, I pick up Girl from Yamhill and read a few pages, then put the book back. I've been doing that for months now, and am about 20-30 pages in. I should probably just check them out, you know.

  15. Yay!!!!!!!!!!! I love this book so much. I can relate to so much of it too.. and I didn't even have a kid sister.It's funny how the shift changes in the later books from Pro Beezus to Pro Ramona.. I also love how Beverly Clear kinda transitioned the books from the 50's to now so seamlessly. But yeah this is truly one of my favorite books. I get rich I will track down the Carolyn Haywood Betsy books for you. ❤ all kinds of love.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I love all of the Ramona books! I remember thinking that this one was old-fashioned, kind of like the Henry Huggins books. To the person above, I found a couple of the Carolyn Haywood Betsy books at a used book store last year! I loved them, too–Betsy's "world" was so cool to me.Jennifer (who can't post as her blogspot account name for some reason

  17. Maggi says:

    Ah, I so love the Ramona books when I was young!

  18. I also thought of myself as sort of a Beezus, I wonder what that says about me. It's weird, I don't remember Ramona being so young in any of the books, so I must have been really young when I read them. I always thought of her like a peer.

  19. Katie Fries says:

    I have so much love for this book. Even as an adult, the last chapter never fails to crack me up. I love how Beverly Cleary is really able to capture the emotions and inner thoughts of kids. I was very much a Beezus growing up and had a Ramona of a younger sister and while rereading this book as an adult I remember thinking that she got Beezus' personality dead on. It was these books, more than anything else, that really formed my early career ambitions. Re: Carolyn Haywood…I was so thrilled to see most of her books in our county library when we moved here last year. Our old library, in suburban Chicago, didn't seem to have acquired anything prior to 1987 (when the building was built) so while they had a number of the old standby "classics" you would expect to find, they were also missing quite a few of what I think of as classics because they were out of print. The Betsy books were a staple of my childhood.

  20. belledame222 says:

    omg, I remember this one. the art class. I *felt* for Beezus…

  21. i was a lot like ramona growing up, only i got spankings instead of time outs (I lived with grandparents who were quite strict.)Now that im an adult im more of a Beezus than a ramona. but i liked both of the girls mainly because theyre different, yet kind towards each other.their relationship reminds me of the relationship I had with my cousin who was a lot like beezus growing up. now were like the best of friends also (I was even made a godmother to her baby girl name cloe).

  22. Sara says:

    Aww, this book. I always felt sympathetic towards both sisters. Maybe because I’m an oldest sister who FELT like the younger…long story short, I had emotional issues and my little sister tried to act bigger than me by scolding me. But as the oldest I got to be the one to read to her and teach her and my cousins how to read. So that was always nice!

  23. Pingback: “We don’t quarrel for fun,” or, Ramona and Her Mother | Are You There Youth? It's Me, Nikki

  24. Tori says:

    I’ve always loved each character. Ramona has had some of the greatest points in life. Well, for when I was younger, anyway. Beezus, well, I am with her. I want to just punch my twin, but he also brings the best of me. That’s all, folks!

  25. ramonagirl says:

    Loved these books as a kid. If I weren’t grown and afraid of being seen reading them again, I would. This was the most fun of the books. I wish the TV series had been longer.

  26. ramonagirl says:

    I felt bad for lil four year old Ramona. So misunderstood . . . 😦

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