More adventures abound for a “Merry Sunshine” of a girl, in the fifth book in her series.
Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ramona and Her Mother begins at the start of the new year, as the family is preparing for a New Year’s brunch with neighbors to celebrate Mr. Quimby’s new job at a supermarket, which he is set to start the next day. After the brunch ends disastrously with annoying (in Ramona’ eyes) Willa Jean Kemp scattering a whole box of Kleenex about the house, the neighbors draw comparisons of Willa Jean to Ramona at that age. The comparisons, in Ramona’s eyes, are unfavorable, and she strives throughout the book to be her “mother’s girl,” that Mrs. Quimby “could never get along without,” as is said about her big sister Beezus. Of course, the attempts to be her “mother’s girl” – bonding through sewing, enjoying brand new pajamas, and even getting a cute haircut – all get the Ramona touch, which is always equal parts humorous and catastrophic.
“Ramona and Her Mother” was my introduction to the world of Ramona Quimby, given to me for Christmas in third grade (1991). I was immediately captivated by the story of a little girl who I felt looked like me (brown hair and bangs always felt so plain!), whose big imagination always had a way of getting her in trouble, which was unlike me. Out of order (which is the natural course of my life, apparently), I read the rest of the series released until that point immediately after reading this book. I am aware of having re-read it at least twice before fifth grade, and this would make the fourth time I’ve read it, almost thirty years later. As a “grown up,” which is what Ramona would think of me, I love the story. I never feel like the misadventures of a spirited little girl living on Klickitat Street ever get old. The books never need updating – the story stays perfectly in 1979, and with the benefit of age, I now understand the references better than I did as a nine-year-old.
The TV series “Ramona,” which aired in the late 1980s, actually takes several excerpts from this book (as well as “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” and “Ramona Forever”) for three episodes, “Ramona’s Bad Day” (the bluing incident/crock pot disaster/parent argument), “New Pajamas,” and “The Great Hair Argument” – each with minor changes, but sticking faithfully with the dialogue and the source material
Obvious easiness aside, this story is a fun read, and I found myself finishing it pretty much in one reading. I’m pretty sure that was the case on at least one of my read-throughs of the series. I still love it, and yes, I highly recommend it.
I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series, even though I know what will happen next. 🙂
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