Ramona and Her Mother
Beverly Cleary has given books to each member of the Quimby household except Mrs. Quimby. Now she gets her turn at last in a story that hits the high and low points of a working mother’s life as seen from Ramona’s seven-and-a-half-year-old viewpoint.
Inevitably domestic tensions, not without their amusing side, occasionally arise. Mr. and Mrs. Quimby sometimes forget who is to do what, as when the Crock-Pot is not plugged in and dinner remains uncooked. Beezus acquires a ludicrous teased hairdo at the student body shop while Ramona gets a becoming pixie haircut. Ramona, who feels unloved, takes to twitching her nose like a rabbit in a cozy picture book until her teacher becomes concerned that something is making her nervous.
Yet Ramona is wrong. She is loved, and readers will rejoice with her when she discovers the wonderful truth. Few writers today are as skilled as Mrs. Cleary at showing families in the round, and here she is at the peak of her powers.
At 7 and a half, with working parents and a sister at “a difficult age,” Ramona Quimby tries hard to do her part to keep family peace. Usually, however, she ends up behind every uproarious incident in the house. Whether she’s dying herself blue, watching while her young neighbor flings Kleenex around the house, or wearing her soft new pajamas to school one day (under her clothes, of course), Ramona’s life is never dull. Through it all, she is struggling for a place in her mother’s heart, worried that she might be unlovable. Not a chance. Ramona Quimby is nothing if not lovable.
Beverly Cleary’s gift for understanding the tangle of thoughts and emotions in a child’s mind and heart is remarkable. Luckily, in addition to being empathic, witty, and astute, Cleary is also prolific. She has created over two dozen children’s books, and been presented with many awards, including the Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw, as well as the Newbery Honor for Ramona and Her Father and for Ramona Quimby, Age 8. (Ages 8 to 12) —Emilie Coulter