Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ramona and Her Mother

By Beverly Cleary. Published 1984.

Ramona’s family is having a New Year’s brunch. Messy Willa Jean, Howie’s little sister will be coming, and Ramona is less than thrilled. She decides to give Willa Jean a present, a box of Kleenex, to keep her away from her own toys.

But when she arrives, Willa Jean is looking adorable, and everyone calls her an angel. She also has a huge new teddy bear, that she won’t let Ramona touch. She does love the Kleenex, and makes a huge mess. People don’t think she’s much of an angel anymore.

Throughout the party, Beezus has been helping, acting like a grown-up. Ramona overhears someone say she’s her mother’s daughter, and gets all jealous. She also hears someone say Willa Jean is Ramona all over again, and she gets quite indignant.

One Saturday, while Mr. Quimby is at work at his new job, Mrs. Quimby has no errands to run, so she and Ramona sit down for a morning of sewing. Ramona is quite pleased by this, and decides to make pants for Ella Funt. This proves to be harder than she thought, however, and she gets worked up into an angry fit.

Ramona stalks off to the bathroom to calm down. And there she sees. A brand new tube of toothpaste. She has always wanted to squeeze out a whole tube. She decides just to give it a little squeeze to make herself feel better. But once she starts, she of course can’t stop. She makes a birthday cake of toothpaste in the sink. But once the tube is empty, she realizes what she’s done. And then Beezus walks in, and tells their mother. She tells Ramona to scoop it all in a jar, and she’ll have to use that. And not to do it again. Ramona’s all, no shit, I did it once, why would I do it again?

Ramona has an absolutely terrible day. She feels everybody I picking on her in the morning, and is told by her teacher there’s no such word as can’t. This confused the hell out of me when I was little, so I feel ya, Ramona. And then she has to go over to Howie’s everyday after school, where Willa Jean just looks to destroy their fun.

Ramona and Howie go down to the basement and built a boat. They try it out in the laundry tub, and Ramona sees a bottle of bluing, that would make the water perfect. But the lid isn’t on tight, and it spills all over Ramona and Howie. Howie’s grandma strips them both down, and it’s super embarrassing standing there in their underwear. Then Ramona has to wear Howie’s clothes. And then her parents are late picking her up, and aren’t in very good moods when they do.

When they get home, the shit really hits the fan. Mr. and Mrs. Quimby each thought the other had plugged in the crock-pot that morning. Neither did. So they have to have pancakes, half a strip of bacon, and carrot salad for dinner. Throughout the preparations, Mr. and Mrs. Quimby are sniping at each other. It devolves into a silly argument about their grandmothers and pancakes. Mrs. Quimby ends up swatting Mr. Quimby on the backside with the pancake turner.

Beezus and Ramona are shocked, and sleep together that night, worried their parents are going to get a divorce. But when they get up, they find their parents are over it. The girls, however, are not. They are pissed their parents behaved that way, and that they aren’t perfect. Their parents find this funny, but promise not to do it again.

Beezus says she doesn’t want her mother to cut her hair anymore. She wants to get it cut at a local hair school, and she’ll pay for it out of her allowance. So her mother takes the girls there one morning. Unfortunately, the woman she wanted to cut her hair graduated, so she gets Lester instead. The head guy tells Mrs. Quimby that children under ten are half-price, so she agrees to let Ramona have her hair cut as well. The hairdresser decides she’s a pixie, and gives her an adorable cut that looks like the top of a heart. Ramona and her mother are very pleased. But that all changes when they see Beezus. “She looked like an unhappy seventh-grade girl with forty-year-old hair.” Ouch.

For just a moment, Ramona feels a little bit of pride at looking better than her sister. But she just feels bad for her when Beezus starts crying in the car. Their mother assures her it will look better once she washes it.

One night, Ramona’s mother notices Ramona’s pajamas are too small. She gets her out a new pair that are actually brand new, not Beezus hand-me-downs. They’re super soft and warm, and she feels like a bunny. They still feel so good the next morning that she doesn’t want to get out of them. She remembers how firemen sleep in their underwear so they slip right into their clothes. So she decides to put her clothes on right over her pajamas. Then she runs to school, like she’s running to a fire.

Of course, she’s way too hot in school. Her teacher, Mrs. Rudge, notices her pink cheeks, and sends her to get her temperature taken, but she doesn’t have one. At recess, Mrs. Rudge asks her what’s going on. Ramona fesses up, but Mrs. Rudge says that’s no problem, she can just go take off her pajamas and put them in a bag. Ramona says she can’t, she’s not wearing any underwear. Mrs. Rudge is all, no biggie. Mrs. Rudge is cool. She even promises not to tell Ramona’s mother. So Ramona goes and changes, and feels a thousand times better. She puts the bag with her pajamas inside her desk.

Of course, Ramona forgets her pajamas at school, and doesn’t remember until bedtime, because she’s all distracted writing her name in cursive everywhere. She’s able to find a too-small pair, and hide it from her family. She’d be super embarrassed if they found out.

The next day, Ramona hears her mother on the phone, and it turns out it’s Mrs. Rudge. Ramona hears her mother laugh, and she just knows she told her secret. So Ramona flips the hell out, even though nobody knows what she’s talking about with the pajamas. Mrs. Rudge didn’t tell. But now she’s all worked up, and declares she’s running away, and goes off to pack. Her mother brings her a suitcase, and helps her to pack. When they’re done, Ramona goes to pick it up, and finds it’s too heavy. She knows her mother tricked her. Her mother says she could never get along without her Ramona. They talk it all out. Mrs. Rudge had actually called because she noticed Ramona wrinkling her nose a lot. Ramona says it’s because she’s being a bunny. Obviously. Also, Ramona’s mother tells her her father will be quitting his job and going back to school, so he can get a job he actually likes.

Her mother also tells her Mrs. Rudge also says Ramona is one of her little sparklers. Ramona loves the imagery, and starts writing her name in cursive with sparks coming off the end of the “y”.

o   I have never had a new tube of toothpaste and not thought of this book.

o   How many adults now would let a couple of seven-year-olds loose with a hammer and saw? I would, but then, I don’t have kids.


  1. I promise I'll stop spamming you with comments after this! :) But I LOVED the Ramona books. I remember feeling like Beverly Cleary really understood how kids that age think. The toothpaste, the pajamas--those were all things I would have done! (Hell, those are things I might do *now*.)

    1. It's all good, I love comments!

      She totally got kids. I'm really enjoying re-reading these and being taken back to that mindset.

  2. Do you know if there's a way to get notifications when someone replies to my comments here? I've been commenting under my livejournal account, which normally notifies me, but I guess it doesn't do that when I use it on other sites.

    1. Do you get the little "notify me" box to tick? That's the only way I know.

  3. OH you did this one twice!

  4. I love, love, love Ramona. I bought the whole box set for my friend's twins recently; I can't wait till they're old enough to read them.