Beverly Cleary’s Ramona’s World (1999)
Illus. Alan Tiegreen

It’s the jaded reader in me; when I discovered that there had been another Ramona book published, fifteen years after the last, I was suspicious.

I thought of L.M. Montgomery, pushed — by readers and publishers — to write more Anne stories, long after she herself was interested in writing them.

I thought of royalty cheques, those which have inspired other writers to squeeze the life out of various series’ characters until they were shrivelled and dusty.

I thought of all the readers who say they are afraid to re-read the books they enjoyed as children because they might not be “all that”

…and I thought maybe I should be one of those readers. Because I didn’t want to be one of those gullible readers who simply can’t resist a sales pitch for a long-loved character’s continued adventures and then finds that they’ve lost their shine.

But the completist reader in me won out.

And even if this were not the final Ramona book, I would gladly slip the next from the shelf. Beverly Cleary did good by Ramona, right ’til the end.

She knows what makes a good story.

Ramona does too. Although she also knows how a reader’s expectations can, sometimes, get in the way of a good story.

When she listens to her mom describe Moby Dick, which her mother is reading for her book club, it sounds interesting. But, then she has a closer look.

“Sounds exciting,” Ramona opened the book, which turned out not to look exciting at all. The print was small, the lines were close together, and there were almost no quotation marks.”

Nonetheless, Ramona has options. And she’s pleased with them.

“She closed the book. She liked her own writing better. That wasn’t all she liked. She liked Mrs. Meachum, she liked Daisy, she liked Yard Ape, she liked the fourth grade. It was going to be a great year.”

I don’t know what inspired Beverly Cleary to write another Ramona story, so many years after the last, but I have an idea. And I got it from Ramona.

“’Okay,’ said Ramona, but she was thinking about Beezus growing up and about what it would be like to grow up herself. She felt the way she felt when she was reading a good book. She wanted to know what would happen next.”

I think she missed Ramona, and she just wanted to know what happened next.

Me too.

What series did you leave unfinished as a younger reader that you’d consider finishing now?