Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fiction Wednesday - A review of Beezus and Ramona

I know that countless American children have grown up listening to, and then reading, the Ramona books. Unfortunately, I was not able to have this experience. For some reason the books in this superlative series never crossed the Atlantic. I cannot imagine why they were not available in Europe when I was growing up, but they weren't. I moved to the U.S. in 1991, and soon after I met Ramona for the first time. Despite my adult status, I love the Ramona stories, and I know I would have loved then when I was a child too. Just in case there are some of you who have somehow missed reading about Ramona and her family, here is a review of the first title in the collection.

Beverly Cleary
Illustrated by Tracy Dockray
For ages 8 to 10
HarperCollins, 1990, 038070918X
Beezus Quimby has a problem - her four-year-old sister. Ramona is the kind of child who does exactly what she wants and heaven help anyone who tries to change her mind. For example, at the moment, Ramona is fixated on one book, “The Littlest Steam Shovel.” Everyone in the family, with the exception of Ramona of course, is sick of the book. Desperate for some respite from Scoopy the steam shovel, Beezus takes Ramona to the library. Surely Ramona will pick a new kind of book, a book that everyone will like? Alas for Beezus and her parents, for Ramona decides to borrow “Big Steve the Steam Shovel.”
   As her little sister finds endless ways to make her life miserable, Beezus finds herself getting angry again and again. Even worse, she discovers that there are moments when she really does not like her little sister at all. There are times when she wishes she could have a break from Ramona. Does this mean that she is a bad person and a bad sister?
   Any child who has been around an annoying younger brother, sister, cousin, or friend will appreciate the six stories in this book. The problems that Beezus and Ramona have to deal with are of the everyday variety; they are the kind of problems that children can relate to. At the same time they are also funny and highly entertaining.
   This is the first title in a series of books about Ramona Quimby.

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