Friday, December 20, 2013

Beezus and Ramona

By Beverly Cleary. Published 1955.

Y’all, I love Ramona with a fiery passion. But I gotta agree with Beezus on this one. She’s an annoying little shit in this book. But I still love her.

Beezus is nine, and Ramona is four. Ramona is basically holding her family hostage, making them read The Littlest Steam Shovel over and over again.  It’s the only way to shut her up, but they’re getting tired of it. One day Beezus has the bright idea to take Ramona to the library and pick out a new book. Ramona insists she wants to pick out her own book, so Beezus goes off to find one of her own. When she gets back, Ramona is holding Big Steve the Steam Shovel. Oh well, at least it’s slightly different.

When they go to check out, they use Beezus’ card. Ramona wants her own. Beezus says the rule is you can’t have a card until you can write your name. Ramona insists she can, but it ends up just being scribbles.

Over the next two weeks, Beezus becomes very familiar with steam shovels. But when it’s time to take the books back, Ramona insists the book is hers. Their mother insists she go get the book, and Ramona disappears for a few minutes. When she comes back, she says the book is hers, and shows them her scribbled “name” on every page. Beezus worries they’ll take her library card away from her. Her mother says it’s fine, they’ll just pay for the damage.

When they get to the library, Beezus has to pay a whopping $2.50 for the book. The librarian says they can keep the book. So Ramona is happy, she got what she wanted. Beezus doesn’t think that’s quite fair, and says so to the very nice librarian. The librarian sees her point, and asks Ramona if she has a card. She says no. The librarian says if it was checked out on Beezus’ card, it’s actually her book. So Beezus can read it to Ramona only when she wants.

Beezus has painting classes at the recreation center, and Ramona goes along to play at the park. Beezus doesn’t have the easiest time in class, because she feels like she has no imagination, unlike Ramona. Ramona has brought her imaginary lizard, Ralph, along with her. Beezus’ assignment is to paint an imaginary animal. At first she draws a winged horse, but it looks too much like the gas station horse.

Ramona comes into the classroom, even though she’s supposed to stay outside. The teacher says she can stay and paint. She can only paint Ralph’s footprints. She gets into it with a boy in the class by stealing his lollipop, and make a mess with the paint. Beezus demands she go back outside. Beezus decides even if Ramona can’t paint Ralph, she can.  As she starts to paint, it ends up turning into a candy dragon. Beezus has an imagination after all.

Beezus has her friend Henry over to play checkers, along with his dog Ribsy. Ramona is being as annoying as she can be, turning over the checkerboard with her tricycle. At least she gets in trouble. When she decides she can be good, she gets a cookie. After a while, there’s a commotion in the hall. Ramona is banging on the bathroom door, and Risby is barking inside it. Ramona shut him up in there for stealing her cookie, and he seems to have locked it. Their mother finally gets the door unlocked using a nail file. After Henry and Risby leave, Beezus wonders why she can’t like Ramona like her mother likes her own little sister.

Beezus has to watch Ramona for a bit while her mother runs to the store. After getting a snack, Beezus can’t find Ramona anywhere. Then she hears a noise from the basement. It’s Ramona, and she’s sitting there taking one bite out an apple, throwing it away, then going for the next one. She says the first bite is the best.

When her aunt calls, Beezus tells her what Ramona did. She’s says to not say anything about it, she probably just wants attention. And to make applesauce. Beezus gets her parents in on it, and even though Ramona tries to bring attention to her being bad, they ignore it. Suddenly she starts being good, and they wonder how long it will last.

During a morning of hair washing, Ramona keeps singing, “I’m going to have a party.” Her mother and sister just think she’s being annoying. Until about fifteen kids descend on their house. It’s chaos at first, until Beezus gets them to have a parade, and they get to use up all the applesauce for refreshments.

It’s Beezus’ birthday, and she’s most looking forward to her cake and her Aunt Beatrice coming for dinner. When she gets home from school, she finds out Ramona ruined her first cake by dropping all the eggs, shells and all, into the mixing bowl. So her mother asks Beezus to watch her while she makes a new cake. Beezus reads her Hansel and Gretl. When the story is over, Ramona drops crumbs on the floor pretending to be Hansel. Beezus tells her to be Gretl instead.

A bit later, Beezus smells something rubbery burning. She goes into the kitchen to find Ramona’s doll in the cake pan in the oven, like the witch in the story. Beezus is very upset. Their mother calls Aunt Beatrice to pick up a cake at a bakery instead.
At dinner, Ramona steals Beezus’ thunder by being annoying while Beezus is trying to tell a story. Ramona gets sent to her room, and Beezus confesses something that’s been bothering her: sometimes she just doesn’t love Ramona.

Her mother and aunt laugh, and tell her that’s alright. They proceed to tell her stories of their childhood, when Beatrice was every bit as annoying as Ramona is. Her mother says she didn’t love Beatrice then either. Beezus feels alright about it then, and her birthday ends up being a good one.

o   Ramona insists on wearing her paper bunny ears to the library, embarrassing Beezus.

o   When asking Ramona’s information to fill out for the library card, the librarian asks for the father’s occupation. Oh, the 1950’s.

o   Cookie is spelled cooky.

o   Beezus gets for her birthday a book called 202 Things to Do on a Rainy Afternoon (a bunch of crappy sounding craft projects), a real sewing kit, and a blue dress.

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