What makes Beverly Cleary’s stories work is that Ramona is more of a real girl than Pinocchio ever was a real boy.
She ticks like a seven-and-a-half-year-old girl ticks.
Here are some of my favourite quotes from my latest Ramona re-read.
On being disappointed at seven-and-a-half years old:
“Nobody had to tell Ramona that life was full of disappointments. She already knew. She was disappointed every evening because she had to go to bed at eight-thirty and never got to see the end of the eight o’clock movie on television. She had seen many beginnings but no endings.”
On trying everything once:
“Of course she would never squeeze out a whole tube of toothpaste again. She had done it once. She did not need to do it again.”
On what parents should be:
“Ramona felt the way Picky-picky looked when someone rumpled his fur. Maybe grown-ups weren’t perfect, but they should be, her parents most of all. They should be cheerful, patient, loving, never sick and never tired. And fun, too.”
“During the daytime she had preferred books about steam shovels, the noisier the better, but at night – bears, nice bears, and bunnies.”
And, because I’m a bookish sort, too, another one on books:
“Ramona heaved a gusty sigh. She wished she had brought her Betsy book with her. She enjoyed reading about Betsy because everyone in the book was so nice to her.”
Oh, okay, twist my arm…here’s another one about books…this time about books and feeling poorly:
“Her mother would read aloud stories from library books and would find in the bookcase the books Ramona had loved so much when she was little, especially the one about the little bear whose mother looked so soft and kind and loving in her long white apron and the book about the bunny snug in bed who said good-night to everything, mittens, a mouse, the moon, and the stars.”
I loved Ramona before she was bookish…but, admittedly, I think the older Ramona and I would have more in common.
What do you think?