Monday, April 10, 2006

remembering ramona

Did anyone hear the story on NPR Sunday afternoon about Beverly Cleary turning 90? She was the author of the Ramona books, which I read avidly as a child. I don't think I realized when I was young that she lived in Portland - just like me - and set her books there. It's pretty cool, when you think about it. I mean, I was enthralled by books set in what seemed like the most exotic places - New York (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), London (A Little Princess) and indeed all of England, Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables), the Great Plains (Little House on the Prairie), Oz. To think that my own city was a place where wonderful children's stories could happen! Now I want to go back and reread them all. I should do that anyway - I remember loving those books, but for the life of me, I couldn't tell you why. Specific scenes and plots escape me. Besides, rereading children's books (and reading them for the first time) is so much fun.

(In case this image is copyrighted, it's the latest illustrated version of Ramona Quimby, by Tracy Dockray. If I'm not supposed to post it, someone please let me know!)

9 comments:

liz said...

Oh, Ramona was my FAVORITE!!!! I just love[d] her. Even though I was not a particularly mischievous child, I identified with her so much. My dad even called me Ramona sometimes. :) I'm not really sure why, considering we didn't have a lot of similarities (family situation, etc.), but I guess that's just a tribute to Beverly Cleary's ability to get into the mind of a child.

I'd be hard-pressed to choose a favorite book heroine, but I know it would either be Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls, or Ramona Quimby for sure.

Liz p. said...

I loved Ramona too! It is funny since I'm sure I was actually much more like the older sister (whose name escapes me at the moment) but I really did enjoy the books. I remember the one part especially when she came home and her cat was dead :( I'm not sure why I remember that one.

I should reread them! Maybe I'll get them from the library.

liz said...

Her name was Beatrice, but everyone called her Beezus.

:P

Christina said...

Having an older sister whose friends seemed "too cool" for my company, I totally related to Ramona The Pest as a girl. And we both had tempers; she once squirted a whole tube of tooth paste in the sink in a burst of rage. (Her mom made her scoop it all up and put it in a plastic bag!)

I read an article about Beverly Clearly in Newsweek and the reporter wrote that she understands how confusing and overwhelming situations can feel to kids, and she never dismissed those feelings the way some adults do.

The writer also noted that Cleary didn't try to modernize her books, maintaining archane elements like wool underwear.

Happy Birthday, Beverly! Bravo!

Emilie said...

Wow ... now I *really* want to reread these books!

On NPR, the interviewer asked Beverly how she remembered with such clarity the mind of a child, and she admitted she had always had that gift - many people forget it. I think that's why it's so enchanting to go back and reread those old books.

And Liz, while we're on the subject of heroines, one of mine would have to have been Sara Crewe, from A Little Princess. I just thought she was a perfect role model ... not that I could possibly live up to her, though. (And not that I have her temperament, either.)

Oh, and Jo from Little Women, and Nancy Drew when I got older.

Christina said...

And Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. Notice how spirited these heroines all are -- tossled hair, rosy cheeks, and a quick tongue.

They speak an empowering message to girls: It's OK to color outside the lines.

Emilie said...

Definitely! Good point, Christina.

Emilie said...

This would make such a great essay topic, too. Hmm ... :)

Ellen said...

I loved Ramona too! I also heard this piece on NPR. There is a park on Klickitat Street in NE Portland where these books are set that's devoted to Beverly Cleary's books anc characters. (It's right off the MAX too, I believe. Em, it will be great place to take baby the next time you come out....