Title: Beezus and Ramona
Author: Beverley Cleary
Series: Ramona Quimby series, book 1
Major Themes: Family Life, Siblings
Synopsis: Beezus tries to take care of her little sister Ramona, who has her own ideas about things and wants her own way all the time.
I have enjoyed Beverley Cleary’s books since I was ten years old or so. They are so true-to-life. The Henry Huggins books portray a normal boy and his dog, and all the problems he found himself getting into. The Ramona books show a little girl with, maybe, more than her share of imagination, and her big sister who tries valiantly to take care of Ramona.
Beezus and Ramona focuses on Ramona’s big sister Beatrice, called Beezus by everyone because that was how Ramona said her name when she was little. Beezus does her best to keep Ramona out of trouble and take care of her, but it is a constant challenge. When she takes Ramona to the library and finds her a book, Ramona decides the book is hers—and writes her name on every page! When Beezus stays with Ramona while Mother goes grocery shopping, Ramona finds the apples and takes a bite out of every one. When Beezus has a birthday, Ramona spoils two cakes. Beezus feels awful that she doesn’t even feel like she loves Ramona. Will they ever learn to get along better?
This story leaves me with somewhat mixed feelings. On one hand, Beezus is a very patient, loving big sister even when she doesn’t want to be. She knows how she should treat Ramona, and tries to do what’s right. On the other hand, Ramona is a brat. She does have her times of being very lovable and vulnerable, but there are so many times that she will not listen, either to Beezus or to her mother. She doesn’t end up getting her way most of the time, though; usually she is sent to her room for awhile. I do appreciate the way Mother is shown, as being at home, taking care of her family and house.
Overall, I would say Beezus and Ramona is a fairly good story. Set in the 1950s or 60s, it portrays children before the advent of electronic games, and while mothers were still at home, not in the workforce. It’s also a very fun book to read! My boys all enjoyed it very much.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12, 10 – 12