Cleary, Beverly. 1968. Ramona the Pest.
"I am not a pest," Ramona Quimby told her big sister Beezus.
Ramona is back. Originally published in 1968, a full decade after Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest follows Ramona as she enters a strange, new world: kindergarten. Now five years old, Ramona is ready--or so she thinks--to conquer this thing called school. Eager to learn to read and write so she can catch up with her older sister Beezus. But what Ramona doesn't expect to be quite so challenging is the ever-going struggle to be good, to stay good through the course of a school day. Staying in her seat. Being quiet. Following the rules. Playing nicely with others. Ramona hasn't encountered much resistance. This has been Ramona's philosophy, and up to a point, it has always worked for her: "If she had to, she would make a great big noisy fuss, and when Ramona made a great big noisy fuss, she usually got her own way. Great big noisy fusses were often necessary when a girl was the youngest member of the family and the youngest person on her block." (12) So you can only imagine what a rude awakening is in store for her as she enters Miss Binney's kindergarten class.
Ramona the Pest is completely delightful. The novel is from Ramona's perspective, and she captures kid-thinking, kid-acting so authentically. Ramona and her classmates. What can I say? There's the ever-so-cute, ever-so-kissable Davy, Susan with the boing-boing curls, and Howie who is Ramona's playmate not by choice but because their parents are good friends. What I didn't realize growing up was how authentically she captures the teacher, Miss Binney.
I have so many favorite scenes from Ramona the Pest. But my favorite favorite favorite scene comes from chapter five, "Ramona's Engagement Ring." Henry Huggins, boy hero, saves Ramona and earns her new-found love and attention.
One of the things that makes these novels so charming, so perfectly delightful (besides the brilliantly witty and authentic characters and dialogue) is the artwork by Louis Darling.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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