“We don’t quarrel for fun,” or, Ramona and Her Mother

Here are two different covers for this book:

The cover I grew up with.

The cover I grew up with.

The cover of the book I just bought at the used book sale.

The cover of the book I just bought at the used book sale.

I’ve been, trying to get the same versions of books that I had as a kid, but it doesn’t always work out. I find more comfort in what I held as a kid. In this case, it’s not just the cover, the inside illustrations are different too. I was all prepared to dislike the illustrations in the newer version, because the illustrations in the originals are AMAZING, but I have to give this new illustrator credit. There is some nice artwork going on in this book.

This book comes right after Ramona and Her Father, but right before Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  Ramona is seven and a half in this book and is in second grade. Much like the other Ramona books, this book reads like each chapter is its own short story with one theme running throughout the book. The theme, as you can tell by the title, is Ramona’s relationship with her mother.

If you’ll remember, the last book had Mr. Quimby spending a lot of time with Ramona after he was laid off from his job. At the beginning of this book, he’s found a job as a cashier at a local supermarket. However, Mrs. Quimby decides she’s going to continue working to earn extra money, and because she likes be a doctor’s office receptionist. This means poor Ramona has to be watched by Howie Kemp’s grandmother every day after school, and Howie’s little four year old sister, Willa Jean is a terror. Kind of like Ramona was in Beezus and Ramona, but she’ll hear nothing of being compared to Willa Jean.

Beezus is in seventh grade and she’s going through puberty. She complains often about her oily hair, and is sullen with the rest of the family. She no longer wants her mother to cut her hair at home, but when Mrs. Quimby says they can’t afford it, Beezus goes into a sulk that lasts for weeks. Finally, Mrs. Quimby takes her to a hair styling school, where the haircuts are deeply discounted. Beezus ends up with a less than great haircut, but Ramona’s is very cute.

But despite the age difference, Ramona and Beezus have moments of closeness. One night when Mr. and Mrs. Quimby have an argument, they are both heavily bothered by it, and Beezus allows Ramona to sleep in her bed that night. The next night, the Quimby parents are startled that their arguing bothered their girls so much.

“Grown ups aren’t supposed to fight,” she (Ramona) informed them.

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” said Mrs. Quimby, “Why not?”

Ramona was stern, “Grownups are supposed to be perfect.”

Both her parents laughed. “Well they are,” Ramona insisted, annoyed by their laughter.

“Name one perfect grown up,” challenged Mr. Quimby. “You can’t do it.”

“Haven’t you noticed grown ups aren’t perfect?” asked Mrs. Quimby. “Especially when they are tired.”

“Then how come you expect us kids to be so perfect all the time?”  demanded Ramona.

“Good question,” said Mrs. Quimby. “I’ll have to think of an answer.”


“You kids fight,” said Mr. Quimby. “Why shouldn’t we?”

“It isn’t dignified,” said Beezus, giving Ramona another word to add to her list. “Especially when you hit someone with a pancake turner.”

“Oh you silly little girls,” said Mrs. Quimby with amusement and affection.

“Why should we let you kids have all the fun?” asked Mr. Quimby.

“We don’t quarrel for fun,” Ramona informed her father.

“You could fool me,” said Mr. Quimby.

Ramona refused to smile, “Don’t you ever do it again,” she ordered her parents in her sternest voice.

Ramona is so used to getting Beezus’ hand-me-downs, that one night she’s stunned when her mother hands her a brand-new pair of pajamas. They are the softest clothes she’s ever owned. So soft, she decides to wear them under her clothes to school.

Of course, she gets overly hot and begins feeling sick. She finally confides in her teacher that she’s wearing her pajamas, but doesn’t want to take them off, because she also isn’t wearing any underwear. But her teacher says not to worry about it, since Ramona is wearing pants instead of a skirt. And she promises not to tell her parents about it.

Unfortunately, Ramona forgets the pajamas at school. And her teacher calls the Quimbys (for something unrelated to the pajamas) but Ramona gets upset and she and Beezus end up getting into an argument over who their parents like the best. Beezus says all Ramona’s artwork is covering the fridge and Ramona never has to do housework. Ramona says that everyone picks on her and they prefer Beezus because she doesn’t have to go to Howie’s house after school. And then Ramona decides to run away.

And, in the most memorable scene of the entire Ramona series, Mrs. Quimby “helps” Ramona pack by giving her things that will make her suitcase too heavy to carry. Then Ramona and her Mother have a heart to heart talk, and they love each other very much. Mrs. Quimby tells her that Mr. Quimby is going to go back to college to study to become an art teacher. Ramona thinks he’s brave to do it, so she decides she can be brave about having to be watched by Howie’s grandmother after school from now on.

  • I always say Ramona and Her Father is my favorite Ramona book. But I really love this one too…. Don’t make me choose!
  • This is the fifth book in the Ramona series. There were twenty-four years between the publishing of the first (Beezus and Ramona) to this one! To put that in perspective: My mother was seven years old when Beezus and Ramona was published. I was two when this one was published.
  • As always, the Quimby parents are a shining and rare example of excellent parents in juvenile lit.
  • God. The toothpaste scene. Ramona can’t control her urge to squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube. You know, I never once wanted to do that until I read about Ramona doing it!
  • Let’s see if my computer camera is working:
Ramona in her new pajamas

Ramona in her new pajamas

Beezus sulking

Beezus sulking

Eh. not the best pics.


About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in Beverly Cleary. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “We don’t quarrel for fun,” or, Ramona and Her Mother

  1. KC says:

    The new Ramona illustrations are cute, but I view them as being in a different realm as the old ones, just like the 80’s tv show (not sure if you saw that one) or the Selena Gomez movie. I always sort of separated them in my head as being completely different versions of the same concept.

    Also, I hate to be spammy, but I started a blog similar to yours if you ever want to check it out.

  2. Sara says:

    Oh man, this book. I like how Ramona, clearly her “father’s girl” wants to be her mother’s girl too, it’s not a question of which parent she values more, but wanting to be appreciated. And when her mom finally tells her she couldn’t get along without her she cries because she’s so happy to hear it. And the quarreling-over-pancakes scene was a classic, too. And Willa Jean being compared to Ramona. I bet Roberta becomes the new Ramona to Willa Jean and Bruce from “Age 8” and the cycle begins anew.

  3. Cass says:

    The scene that has always stuck with me from this book was when Ramona’s parents were late picking her up from the Kemp’s house after work. It’s dinner time, and Ramona sits alone in the living room while the Kemps eat their meal. As a child, I was appalled by this. You just didn’t DO that in my family. If company was over, and there wasn’t enough to go around, you didn’t eat until the company left. It still seems pretty damn rude to me now, to be honest. Poor hungry Ramona listening to the Kemps chow down on pork chops. 😦

  4. Krystal says:

    Even thought I kind of like the illustrations, sometimes I just can’t view those versions as the real Ramona and Beezus. Romana just doesn’t look as spunky as she used to, in my opinion anyways.

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