"The Quimbys had a clever younger daughter…"or Ramona Quimby, Age 8

This is so clearly the best cover of all the Ramona books.  Look at little Ramona, she’s freaking adorable on this cover! Throw some long blond hair on that child and that’s seriously what my youngest sister, Lindsey looked like at eight years old. 
This book begins with eight year old Ramona excited to start a new school year.  She’ll be riding the bus to a new school all by herself thanks to some recent redistricting putting her and Beezus in different school districts.  Who else is starting school?  None other than Mr. Q, who is returning to college to become a art teacher.  He’s working in the supermarket warehouse on a part time basis, and Mrs. Q is still working full time at the doctors office.  After school, Ramona is sent to the Kemp’s house to be watched by Howie’s grandmother, who forces Ramona to do nothing but play with four year old Willa Jean.  Even when she’d rather be reading or playing with Howie. 
On the first day of school, Ramona quickly makes a frenemy in a little boy named Danny.  Danny nicknames Ramona ‘Superfoot,’ and in return she calls him Yard Ape.  The two have a friendly battle throughout the book. 
Because it’s a Ramona book, each chapter is a separate story in itself, all threaded together in a common theme of Ramona’s insecurities about her family’s happiness and whether or not she’s a nuisance.  All the kids bring hard-boiled eggs to school for lunch and crack them open on their heads.  Ramona does the same…only oops.  Mrs. Q had accidentally given Ramona a raw egg.  When she’s in the office cleaning up, Ramona  overhears her teacher telling the secretary that she’s a nuisance.  Ramona tries to be good, but she’s Ramona, you know? 
Ramona and Beezus discover that their parents are serving them tongue and refuse to eat it, starting a big family quarrel. Mr. and Mrs. Q punish the girls by making them make dinner.  Which starts out disastrous, but ends up not tasting terrible.  They have to improvise and use plain yoghurt instead of cream of mushroom soup for the baked chicken.  And they run out of corn meal while making cornbread and add Cream of Wheat to bulk it up. 
Ramona gets sick, and because she’s trying not to be such a nuisance doesn’t tell anyone.  So, naturally, she throws up in class.  She’s out with the flu for a long time, during which she loves being taken care of by her parents.  Yard Ape shows up at her house with a package from their teacher which includes a book that Ramona has to read for her first ever book report.  Which turns out adorable, because they have to “sell” the book, and Ramona is the queen of television commercials, knowledge which she uses to try and hock a book she didn’t really care for.  (Her report ends with the phrase, “I can’t believe I read the whole thing!”  And if that doesn’t make you smile at least a little bit, you have no soul.)
Finally in the last chapter, it’s a rainy Sunday and all of the Quimbys are grumpy with each other. Beezus is mad because she isn’t allowed to sleep over at Mary Jane’s, Ramona is mad because her parents yelled at her to clean up her room.  Mr. and Mrs. Q argue about keeping the cat in or out doors.  They’re just a grumpy mess of a family.  So Mr. Q decides the family needs a break and he treats them to dinner at Whopperburger.  They are trying hard to get along and have a nice dinner.  A lonely older gent notices them, and secretly pays for their dinner.  And Ramona is gobsmacked to learn pretty much the same lesson that she learned at the end of Ramona and Her Father. Which is that her family isn’t perfect, but they are a nice family. 
  • Continuity?  In Beezus and Ramona, Willa Jean Kemp is 18 months old.  Ramona is four.  So in this book, Willa Jean should be five and a half.  But they only have her as a four year old. 
  • Still, there were about twenty five years between Beezus and Ramona and this book.  So I’ll give Beverly Cleary a pass on that.  
  • I’m terribly jealous of Ramona’s classroom.  The view from their window is of Mt. Hood.  I grew up going to schools that were designed by some genius who seemed to have gotten SCHOOL mixed up with PRISON. I never actually had a classroom with a window.  And yes, it was fucking depressing.  
  • Willa Jean introduces Ramona to one of her friends from preschool as, “Bruce who doesn’t wee-wee in the sandbox.’  Willa Jean’s grandmother is horrified, but Ramona gets right away that there must have been a Bruce who did wee wee in the sandbox. 
  • Ramona’s a little bookworm.  Her favorite part of the school day is DEAR.  Or, Drop Everything And Read.  Finally….she doesn’t have to sneak her personal reading in during lessons.  
  • Ramona is learning to write cursive and hates the letter Q.  It looks like a stupid floppy 2.  Did you know that in recent years the cursive alphabet has been redesigned? And that the uppercase Q no longer looks like a 2?  I just read an article about it, and all I can say is, it’s about fucking time.  Doesn’t this just look cleaner and simpler?
  • I’ve never eaten tongue.  I might have the same reaction as Ramona and Beezus did.  I remember after I read this book as a kid, I used to check any meat my mom made very carefully to look for the telltale bumps of tongue. 
  • When the Quimby’s go to Whopperburger, Ramona realizes that for the first time, she can actually read the menu, and not rely on the pictures.  To celebrate, she orders and adult sized meal instead of from the kids’ menu.  And then, of course, can’t finish what she started. 
  • I love this Ramona book.  It’s probably my second favorite.  But I think my next Beverly Cleary book is going to be one of her books for older kids.  Jean and Johnny or Sister of the Bride.  Something like that.

About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
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44 Responses to "The Quimbys had a clever younger daughter…"or Ramona Quimby, Age 8

  1. LadyJ3000 says:

    Same here. After reading this book, I used to examine the meat that Mom put in front of me for bumps. It used to drive her crazy.

  2. Michelle says:

    This was my first Ramona book and totally my favorite. Great review :DBy the way, I think our schools were designed by the same guy– we had windows, but until high school they had grating on them. Well, the school called it grating. They were friggin' bars. I used to pretend I was in prison while I was at school.

  3. Aaaaaaahhh. I do not like this new cursive. I do not like it one bit. I emailed it to like fifteen people. I was too enraged to even explain why I was emailing it to them, though, so we'll see how that turns out.Also, dude, I thought I hadn't read this book, but your recap makes me think that I had it read to me as a kid or something — that would explain why my memory of it was so faint. I want to reread it now! It's been a stressful rainy week, and I think some Ramona books in a bubble bath would really improve my dang life.

  4. CarrieLives says:

    Love, love, love this book. I gave it to my then-8-year-old cousin for Christmas last year because I hoped she'd love it as much as I did. And I totally remember the scene where Ramona and Beezus make dinner and Beezus whines about touching the raw meat.

  5. Amber says:

    I'm kind of into the new cursive. I'm especially fond of the "Z" which has gone from impossible to write to just your ordinary, non-cursive "Z." I'm glad that they left the "G" alone, though. "G" was always the most fun to do.

  6. Sadako says:

    I don't really remember this one but which book was the moment where she thinks it's the Dawnzer Lee Light, not the Dawn's Early Light, and where her teacher's all, "Wait here for the present"? That one was awesome.Ramona "selling" her book as in a commercial sounds freaking adorable. And tongue scares me, too. Katz's Deli, you can imagine, almost gave me a nervous breakdown. Good pickles, though.

  7. OMG, this was my first Ramona book! And it was totally this cover. I think it was the Ramona books, the Little House books, and (gulp) Sweet Valley Twins that made me an addictive reader.I loved Jean and Johnny AND Sister of the Bride. Re-read them long after they were age-appropriate for me. (Oh God, that last comment makes me sound like Chris Hanson should be asking me to take a seat.)

  8. nikki says:

    Sadako – you're thinking of Ramona the Pest.NTOKG – Really? You don't like the new cursive? I think it's a vast improvement, especially considering there is NO FUCKING NEED FOR CURSIVE ANYMORE!!!!

  9. Ally says:

    I loved the Ramona books. I blogged about it a while ago. I remember the mention of tongue too!Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

  10. oldschoolpopculture says:

    Yay! This was my very first Ramona book. Your post made me want to go reread it. As for the new cursive, I could take it or leave it. I haven't used cursive (other than for signatures) since the sixth grade. My handwriting was barely legible and it was a relief to switch back to printing.

  11. Mary Ann says:

    I'm glad to see I am not the only one who was scared her parents might try to sneak some tongue onto the dinner table after reading this book! I'd even ask my mom, "is this tongue?" every now and again, and she'd always laugh at me (and probably wonder where I got that idea). Sometimes I look for tongue in the grocery store just to see if it is there, haha, I don't think I've ever seen any, though. Funny how that stuck with me all these years!

  12. Caroline says:

    I LOVED Ramona. I get the books mixed up in my head, though – I can never keep them straight! Ramona Forever is my favourite. And this: "And if that doesn't make you smile at least a little bit, you have no soul."is so true.

  13. This was my first Ramona book! I was actually just thinking about it today. I wrote Beverly Clearly a fan letter after I read it and was heart broken when I got a generic postcard back saying she couldn't reply to all letters! (My sister had gotten a response from Ann M. Martin. I'm still crazy jealous about it!)I still have my fan letter rejection postcard tucked away.

  14. Beezus and Ramona making dinner is one of my favorite literary moments of all time. Yeah, I said it.

  15. ali says:

    I love this book! Ramona is amazing. I have to say, I think Beverly Cleary's books about and for younger kids (Ramona's age) are better than her books for older readers. Maybe it's (mostly) a generational/"it was a different time then" thing, but the older kid books just don't have the same spark. Have you ever read Fifteen? I love Beverly Cleary and yet I can't stand that book.

  16. Emily says:

    Oh, I remember DEAR! That and when we'd stop everything on Fridays for "Writer's Workshop" were my favorite parts of elementary school.For the record, as per your poll, the barfing part was most memorable for me. I HATED anything to do with throwing up when I was little, so I had to skip that part. 🙂

    • Isabel Escalante says:

      Emily- totally with you on that. I’m glad I figured out that in the ‘Ramona and Beezus’ movie, Ramona was going to throw up at one point, so I closed my eyes during that part. And every time I read a recap of ‘Stacey vs. the BSC’, I always wince (and stop eating) just in case the nasty puke scene is mentioned.

  17. nikki says:

    Ali – I'm with you on her books for older kids. Fifteen and The Luckiest Girl were ridic. I don't understand why she created such an awesome character in Ramona, but couldn't create a good believable girl teenager character.

  18. Anna says:

    First of all, I loved Ramona. Which book was the one where she kept calling tomatoes tommytoes and the father said something like the first time it's funny, second time it's annoying, the third time it's a spanking? Also if they were going to redesign cursive, why didn't they change the capital G while they were at it??

  19. Tara says:

    I ADORED this one. Ramona was my total spirit guide in elementary school.As for the cursive thing, I have a lot of tech-head friends who all laugh at me for still caring what my penmanship looks like. I don't care, though; I like cursive, I like having pretty handwriting, and I reject efforts to make cursive less aesthetically pleasing. That alphabet is… well, it's ugly.

  20. Anonymous says:

    So… I'm the only one who asked for tongue after reading this? By the way, it's pretty good.

  21. Sada says:

    1) I'm totally with you on the cover. Perfect Ramona! 2) My elementary school didn't have windows either. But as a Portland resident, I can tell you that Ramona could only see Mt. Hood on a clear day, and during the school year (which coincides with most of the rainy season), those are pretty rare. 3) I've eaten a tongue sandwich (why does that sound so wrong?), and it was actually pretty good. The texture takes a little getting used to though.

    • Nairobi Dora Harper says:

      My elementary does have windows, two windows and one that is unsafe. The unsafe one is unsafe because, well because what if two men were fighting on the roof of my school, and well they used the window to jump in! Gosh that would be horrid. I’m only 8 years old going to third grade this year. Seriesly, I hope next year the windows will be more safe. Also I am in room 2, I’m looking forward to going to room 3 next year.

  22. Kathryn says:

    Anna- tommytoes/tomatoes is in Ramona and Her Father.When Ramona is home sick, Yard Ape isn't the one to bring her homework-it's another girl from her class…but Yard Ape is the one who wrote her a letter in cursive that was different than the form letter the rest of the class wrote her.Nikki, did you know that the Ramona books are all on tape read by Stockard Channing? I used to get them on the library all the time when I was a kid. My fiance has transferred "Ramona Forever" from cassette to CD for me to listen to me in my car… I listen to it all the time in high stress driving situations 🙂

  23. nikki says:

    Kathryn – you're absolutely right about Yard Ape not being the one to bring her the homework. I figured that out about two hours after I hit the publish button and was hoping no one would call me out on it. I should know my readers are way more vigilant than I am! :)Sada – My husband and I were thisclose to moving to Portland a few months ago. It ended up not happening, but visions of my kid seeing Mt. Hood from his classroom window kind of made me wistful that we didn't make it out there.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Please please recap Jean and Johnny or Sister of the bride or Fifteen or.. (I know there was another one, I can't remember the name! I think it's the one where the main girl moves to CA to stay with her mother's college roommate, or was that 15?) Those were great and full of outdated fun! by the way, I just discovered your blog, and it is awesome!

  25. nikki says:

    Anon -The Luckiest Girl is the one you're thinking of. I think I have that and Jean & Johnny in my pile. So yeah, I'll get to one of them in a few weeks. It's a little hazy, but I seem to recall those books being ridiculously anti-feminist.

  26. obie119 says:

    OMG, how would I know about the "new cursive" if not for this blog?? I don't like it either, because I remember those little quirks being mystifying and fun.Oh well, no one seems to be using cursive these days anyway. When I have kids, it's probably be really useful to have a Secret Grownup Language!As for the cover, I really liked the old cover with Ramona hanging off the number 8…I think that was the original! The one you have in the blog makes her look like a child Beaker (from the muppet show) – I love Ramona and I love Beaker, but…Also, I agree re: Cleary's books for older readers, but I have a big soft spot for The Luckiest Girl! I just think it's sweet and fun.

  27. LiLu says:

    You kill me with the nostalgia.KILL ME.

  28. Phyllis says:

    I've never eaten tongue. I might have the same reaction as Ramona and Beezus did. I remember after I read this book as a kid, I used to check any meat my mom made very carefully to look for the telltale bumps of tongue.To quote Theo Huxtable, "I'm not tasting anything that can taste me!"

  29. Thank you for your recap of the story, my 2nd grader has to do a book report (actually a commercial) on the book and I do not feel like reading it! Now I don't have to!

  30. Calico Drive says:

    This is a great recap! And I love that cover, too. I just want to schmudsch her cheeks, you know?

  31. HATE HATE HATE the new cursive. Loved this review, however.

  32. this is one of my favorite Ramona books right along with Ramona Forever, Ramona and her Father, and Ramona's World.Ms. Whaley sounds like a cool teacher to have right along with Miss Binney from Ramona the Pest.

  33. Jennifer says:

    As much as I always loved this book, that whole "making dinner" thing has become a bit of a sticking point.Ramona and Beezus don't sass their parents back, don't act up, don't do anything but say they don't like the meal. And for this, they're forced to cook an entire meal when they've never done so before. Didn't that seem a little harsh for simply not liking a meal? What if they'd cut or burned themselves?It would have been different if, say, they'd sassed their mother about what a lousy cook she was and said, "WE would make a better dinner than this!" And the mother takes them up on it, and they find themselves in over their heads and appreciating what their mother goes through. But this almost seems to be punishing them for expressing an opinion. Usually the punishment for not eating dinner is simply no dessert!

  34. Sara says:

    The cooking scene is one of my all-time favorite scenes in any children’s book. Ever. 😀 I even tried to replicate the yogurt chicken recipe but I kinda bombed. Maybe because I used white meat and not enough spices. And no frozen peas. Maybe next time!

    I’ve never had tongue before. Apparently it’s not as bad as most say it is? I remember they had the sliced kosher kind at the shiva for my grandpa’s funeral, but I didn’t try it.

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

  36. John says:

    Quimbys, not Quimby’s (unless it’s referring to one Quimby who is in possession of something).

  37. Tori says:

    A. I thought Sara delivered the letters. let me check…Hmm,I’m right!
    B.I though that Mrs.Waley really WAS calling Ramona a nuisance. She was just too chicken – SCOOTALOOO- to admit it.

  38. Isabel Escalante says:

    I LOVE this book, and just re-read it back in March. This book has made me actually try to see if I can crack a hard-boiled egg on my head. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

  39. Nefarious Nautilus (@NefariousNautil) says:

    I remember really liking Beezus and Ramona, probably because I was an older sister. Ramona Forever sticks in my memory, for some reason, although Age 8 is a total classic. I also really liked Socks- from the point of few of a gray striped tabby kitten, picked up from a box in front of the supermarket by a young married couple. It’s completely accurate, and the last chapter always made me laugh hysterically.

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