The Ramona Series are the type of books that you will just keep pulling out of your bookshelf to read, any day, any age, just because.
Maybe it’s because author Beverly Cleary developed the characters so well in our minds, it’s as if they are your best friend.
Maybe it’s because the adventures Ramona gets into are so relatable and funny.
Or maybe it’s just because these books reflect life. Messy, funny, scary at times, but always coming back back stronger each time.
I think what won this book over for me was just how much of a character Ramona was. I can’t even fully put it into words- it was unbelievable. This had never happened with any other book before, just Ramona. She is just such a charismatic girl, filled with spunk and adventure, with such a BIG imagination, always hoping to be excited by the everyday things.
Her experiences push her forward, and throughout the books, you can see her growth. During the stories, I would practically hear Ramona’s voice echoing in my ears. It was as if she was alive, and words, just the sheer power of language, had never done that before.
I think what also made Ramona such a character was her family. Her sister, Beatrice, christened Beezus, is the typical sister. Annoying, mean at times, and kind at the perfect moments. She and Ramona have the usual relationship, and you can see both girls evolve and change from their experiences with each other.
Both of them have their own problems, Beatrice with the drama that comes with junior high and Ramona with the feeling of never growing up, and throughout the book you can sense that they trust each other and support each other more, with secrets or just things both siblings want to conceal and hide.
For example, when Beezus went to the mall with her friends, she got her ears pierced but without her parents’ consent. Worried about what her mom and dad would think, she told Ramona what she had done before she told her parents because she trusted her sister- that trust had been built like a wall of bricks, day after day, placing each brick on top of the other.
Ramona’s father is a caring, gentle, hilarious man. He loves to draw and at home is a cartoon artist, drawing comical illustrations on her lunch bag, while struggling in the first few books to get a job after he got let off at a agency. When Ramona gets into her mayhem and accidents that don’t always result well, her dad is there to hear her out, give her a hand, and help her through whatever knot she is in. Always.
Ramona’s mother is more serious but has an air about her that just makes you feel comforted and happy. She is understanding, just like Ramona’s father and knows what her children need.
Aunt Beatrice, her mom’s sister, is always there for Ramona. When Ramona is upset or frustrated with how something is going, whether she feels like she isn’t helping her father, whether her sister has called her a pest, whether she fell off the unicycle her neighbor Howie let her ride, Aunt Beatrice is always there with a joke, or a small gift, or the perfect words or story, that make Ramona feel better instantly. She is to Ramona a one of a kind ointment to the scrapes and burns that Ramona gets.
Ramona also builds friendships at her school, and throughout the series, you can see how she grows in the social arena, opening up, creating new circles, and expanding her universe. Her neighbor and friend, Howie, is adventurous as well, and always open to trying new things. They get to know each other throughout the series very well, as in the earlier part of the series, Ramona went to his house everyday after school until her parents got home from work. One part of the book that stands out is the part where Howie lets Ramona ride his brand new unicycle, and he takes Ramona’s bike. Ramona crashes head over heels, and she ends of being okay, but its one of their many adventures throughout the book. They also stomp through the neighborhood one day in the pouring rain, with handmade stilts made with buckets and yarn, screaming “100 bottles of beer on the wall!”
As each book in the series age, so does Ramona. She grows up, and matures, and she has different kinds of adventures, not like the kind when she was doing a car wash on her neighbor’s car (Howie’s uncle), and the car rolls off the sandbag and into the shed, where over fifty buckets of paint topple onto it, causing the what was once a black Jeep to look more like an ice cream truck. These are just a few of the adventures of spunky Ramona! She meets Daisy, a kind, funny girl, remarkably like her name. They grow close, as Ramona nears the age of 13, which is where the book series ends at.
What I loved about Ramona is that through all of her adventures, she was always trying to make the world a better place, and make someone else happy. When the buckets of paint dumped on her neighbor’s car, she had been doing a car wash to raise money for her family, because her dad had been suddenly let off. Everything she does is because of an outcome that she has in her mind, but more often than not, it’s not what she expects, which is what makes the book such a colorful, unique book that stands out on the shelves.
If you like a series in which the characters are vividly developed, have a lot of funny adventures, and are always trying to make the world a better place through them, then the Ramona Series is for you!
Ramona Quimby Series by Beverly Cleary. HarperCollins, 2016. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!
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