Cleary, Beverly. 1955. Beezus and Ramona.
Originally published in 1955, Beezus and Ramona is a true children's classic. Beezus, age 9, and Ramona, age 4, are the stars of Beezus and Ramona. This story is told from Beezus' perspective. (I believe the others in the series are told from Ramona's perspective.) This is how it opens: "Beatrice Quimby's biggest problem was her little sister Ramona. Beatrice, or Beezus (as everyone called her, because that was what Ramona had called her when she first learned to talk), knew other nine-year-old girls who had little sisters who went to nursery school, but she did not know anyone with a little sister like Ramona." If you've read any of the Ramona series, you know what she's talking about. Ramona. That love-to-hate, pesky little sister who is always into something. She has to be one of the best-loved, most-memorable characters ever created.
In Beezus and Ramona, we see the family dynamics of the Quimby household and the tension between two sisters. Beezus is almost perpetually frustrated with her younger sister. And Ramona is well, Ramona. Prone to wanting what she wants when she wants it.
I must have read this series dozens and dozens of times growing up. But I haven't read it recently. I probably last read it in 1999. Ramona is just as great as I remembered it. Each chapter has a scene that I almost know by heart. From the opening chapter, where Ramona's fascination with steam shovels lead her to destroy a library book, to the last chapter where Ramona's imaginative "acting-out" of Hansel and Gretel leads her to bake her doll, Bendix, in the oven and ruin her sister's birthday cake in the process.
I highly recommend this series to readers young and old. I think they make especially nice read-alouds! You can read the first chapter online here.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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