Friday, April 23, 2010

Beezus and Ramona ~ by Beverly Cleary, 1955

It's kind of fun when I'm reading along in one book to run across a reference to another book I have recently read. That happened to me last night when I read the first page of Bare Your Soul, a 2002 nonfiction book edited by Angela Watrous.  In the chapter called "My Sister's Keeper, Twilight Greenaway writes:
"As kids, Mara and I were so close it was sometimes suffocating.  I was Beezus, she was Ramona."
Only if you know the other book would you understand that Mara was Twilight's annoying little sister.  Here's an example from page 14 of Beezus and Ramona:
"Beezus watched her little sister pedal furiously around the living room, inhaling and exhaling [to make noises on her harmonica].  Why did she have to like a book about a steam shovel anyway?  Girls weren't supposed to like machinery.  Why couldn't she like something quiet, like Peter Rabbit?"
This book from more than a half century ago (published in 1955) has Beezus (nickname for Beatrice Quimby) spouting the accepted norm, that girls were not "supposed" to like machinery.  But notice that at least one little girl did -- Ramona Quimby.  The reading guide at HarperCollins has a question about things we aren't supposed to do:
"At her birthday dinner Beezus tells Ramona, 'You can’t have jelly on your mashed potatoes because you aren’t supposed to.'  Of course, Beezus is right, but isn’t this also an example of the difference between Beezus and Ramona, between being older and being younger?  What are some arguments for and against the idea that there are some things we don’t do, because we aren’t supposed to?"
These sisters became so well known that a writer in the twenty-first century could, by saying their names, conjure up an image of what life with her sister had been like.  How many of you reading my blog have read any of the Beezus and Ramona books?  Could you relate to their life?

I rate this first book in the series 8 of 10, a very good book for children.


Beth said...

I loved the Ramona books when I was young. One of the wonderful things about those books is that the feelings and experiences in them are universal and timeless, so that even modern children could relate to them. I certainly did.

By the way, Bonnie, thank you so much for your comment on my post---it meant a lot.

Beth said...

P.S. Hank and Homer say Hey!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Seeing your sock-monkey icon this morning reminds me to tell you that I really DO know that Hank and Homer are actually a glove and a sock, not both "sock friends" as I said in my comment.

Here's the link for the rest of you readers, who may want to know what I'm talking about: