Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ramona the Brave

By Beverly Cleary. Published 1975.

Ramona is so proud of herself, y’all. She stood up for Beezus against some big, bad boys. They started teasing her about her name, saying, “Jesus, Beezus.” Then Ramona, according to Beezus, preached a sermon, about not taking the Lord’s name in vain. Poor Ramona, she just thought Beezus was mad about the boys, but no. She was embarrassed by Ramona. But Ramona says she thinks Beezus’ real name, Beatrice, is fancy, and Beezus seems to forgive her.

Mrs. Quimby has been going on a lot of mysterious errands, and she finally lets the girls in on the secret. She’s gotten a job working as a bookkeeper for a doctor. And with the money, they’re going to finally build on an extra room to the house, so the girls don’t have to share anymore, and hopefully fight less. They’re going to switch out who has the new room every six months. That sounds like a lot of trouble to me, but whatever. The adults decided it’s true that Beezus gets everything first, so Ramona gets the new room first.

Ramona is super excited about having a hole in the house. She can’t wait to tell everybody about it once school starts. But first it takes a while for the workmen to show up, and then they have to lay the foundation first. But then, it happens. There’s a hole in the side of their house. That night, Beezus and Ramona scare themselves talking about how spooky it is.

On the first day of school, Ramona gets up to tell everyone about them chopping a hole in her house. But they don’t believe her. She tries to use Howie as back-up, but he says, no, they didn’t. So Ramona is super embarrassed, and pissed at Howie. He later explains to Ramona that they didn’t chop anything, but pried off the siding. Stupid, literal Howie.

Ugh, I always hated this chapter. I totally feel Ramona’s frustration and sense of injustice. So, the class make owls out of paper bags to put on display for Parents’ Night. Ramona gets creative with hers, adding glasses, v’s to represent feathers, and has the eyes looking off to the side. But beside her, Susan of the boing-y curls has copied everything! And Mrs. Griggs sees hers first, and holds it up as an example. Now everyone will think Ramona’s the copycat, so she throws hers away. The day of Parents’ Night, everyone places their owls on their desks. Ramona of course doesn’t have one, and she’s so pissed, she crumples up Susan’s, and runs home.

On the way home, she falls and skins her knees. But there’s a surprise waiting for her, her new room is finished, and she gets to sleep in it that night.

Ramona’s parents do learn about what happened with Susan’s owl. Ramona gets to explain, though, and they’re not mad. But she will have to apologize to Susan. In fact, Mrs. Griggs makes her stand up in front of everyone and do it. But later she whispers to Susan that she’s a copycat, and that makes her feel better.

They get their progress reports, and Ramona knows hers won’t be very good, so she tries hiding it. But Beezus, who has a good report, ruins that. There are some good things about Ramona, but Mrs. Griggs says she needs to learn self-control and keep her hands to herself. Ramona gets pissy with Beezus, who butts in, and says she’ll talk any way she wants to. She gets in trouble for that one. Then she gets so upset she says she’s going to say a bad word. And she does.

Guts. She screams it over and over.

But her family just laughs at her, of course. Ramona pretty much throws a fit. When she’s calmed down, she’s able to talk. She says her parents love Beezus more, but of course they argue that. Then she tries to get out of going back to her class. Beezus agrees that Mrs. Griggs isn’t the best teacher. Not bad, just not exciting. That makes Ramona feel better.

Ramona is determined to have a batter day, and even decides to go a different way to school. But on this new street, she runs into a German Shepard, that growls at her and chases her. She tries throwing her lunch box at him, and then her shoe. He likes that, and takes it and starts chewing on it. So Ramona has to go to school with only one shoe. When Mrs. Griggs sees, she says she can wear one of the old boots in the coatroom.

Ramona’s not down with that, so she comes up with a better idea. At recess, she goes to bathroom and gets a bunch of paper towels. Then she goes up to Beezus’ classroom, and asks her awesome teacher, Mr. Cardoza, if she can borrow his stapler. He gladly lends it to her, and she gets to work making a slipper. It’s super crafty of her, it would go over well on Pinterest.

When she gets back to her room, she’s in a little trouble for sneaking off, but Mrs. Griggs says she likes the slipper. That makes Ramona feel more warmly towards her. Then they get a phone call. Ramona’s shoe is waiting for her in the office. She gets to tell the secretary her story, and she tells Ramona she must be very brave. Ramona’s all like, “I totes am, bitches.”

o   I’d forgotten all about Brick Factory. It’s a game Ramona and Howie play, where they take big rocks, and crush old bricks up. I can see a certain amount of satisfaction from that.

o   Ramona thinks her father can still run fast for a man of thirty-three. Oy.

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