Thursday, April 09, 2015

Ramona the Pest (1968)

Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. 1968. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

  Ramona the Pest is the first book in the series from Ramona's own point of view. At last readers get the chance to be inside Ramona's head after witnessing all her pesty ways in previous books. Ramona is in kindergarten. And Ramona's teacher isn't the only one who will find her unforgettable. In my review of Beezus and Ramona, I mentioned how Cleary greatest strength was her ability to capture what it was like to be a kid. That is very true in Ramona the Pest. The writing is PERFECT.
Ramona could not understand why grown-ups always talked about how quickly children grew up. Ramona thought growing up was the slowest thing there was, slower even than waiting for Christmas to come. She had been waiting years just to get to kindergarten, and the last half-hour was the slowest part of all.(7)
"Ramona's Great Day" Ramona's first day of morning kindergarten. Her teacher is Miss Binney. The days has its ups and downs. But Ramona by the end of the day feels good about this thing called school. But will it last?! This is the chapter where Ramona asks Miss Binney HOW DID MIKE MULLIGAN GO TO THE BATHROOM?!
"Boys and girls," she began, and spoke in her clear, distinct way. "The reason the book does not tell us how Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom is that it is not an important part of the story. The story is about digging the basement of the town hall, and that is what the book tells us." Miss Binney spoke as if this explanation ended the matter, but the kindergarten was not convinced. Ramona knew and the rest of the class knew that knowing how to go to the bathroom was important. They were surprised that Miss Binney did not understand, because she had shown them the bathroom the very first thing. Ramona could see there were some things she was not going to learn in school, and along with the rest of the class she stared reproachfully at Miss Binney. (20)
"Show and Tell" Howie and Ramona get into a fight over a ribbon. That's the short version. It's a ribbon that Miss Binney gave Howie for "Howie's bunny" that was really Ramona's bunny. You see, Howie's mom thought Howie was upset that he wasn't bringing anything for show and tell. And Ramona's mother made her go in the house to get something--anything--for Howie to take. She picked a rabbit that was mainly loved by their cat. Ramona thinks it should be HER ribbon because it was tied to her bunny. Howie likes it only because it came from the teacher. That and I think he likes to fight with Ramona. So if she didn't want it, would he?!

"Seatwork" Adventures and misadventures in the classroom. We get lovely descriptions of some of Ramona's classmates. There is Howie, of course, Davy, the boy she chases and tries to kiss, and Susan, her nemesis. This chapter, Ramona decides to go by Ramona Q and decorate the Q like a cat. I love this chapter because we get to overhear Miss Binney interacting with ALL the children.

"Substitute" Ramona is scared of the substitute teacher and doesn't want to be in kindergarten if Miss Binney is absent. She can't go home, or, her mother will know. So where will she go?!

"Ramona's Engagement Ring" This chapter is probably one of my FAVORITE chapters from the whole series. In this chapter, Ramona has issues with her boots. She doesn't want hand-me-down brown "boy" boots. She wants pretty RED boots that are obvious girl boots. She does get them eventually. But can she use them responsibly?! This is the chapter where Henry Huggins becomes Ramona's hero...much to Davy's relief. It has Ramona joyfully shouting that she WILL MARRY HENRY HUGGINS. She has a worm engagement ring and everything.

"The Baddest Witch in the World" The Halloween chapter. Ramona *wants* to be the baddest witch, but, she also wants to be herself. She doesn't want to be unknown. So what will she do when it's costume time?!

"The Day Things Went Wrong" Will Ramona be kicked out of kindergarten because she lacks self-control when it comes to touching or pulling Susan's curly hair?! This one has plenty of drama, including a lost tooth which she leaves at school accidentally.

"Kindergarten Dropout" Ramona still persists that she won't go back to school. Is there anything to be done?!
Ramona despaired. Nobody understood. She wanted to behave herself. Except when banging her heels on the bedroom wall, she had always wanted to behave herself. Why couldn't people understood how she felt? She had only touched Susan's hair in the first place because it was so beautiful, and the last time--well, Susan had been so bossy she deserved to have her hair pulled. (202)
It was a joy to read Ramona the Pest again. 

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© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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