In today’s world, where people are always searching for ‘strong female characters,’ Mrs. Cleary was ahead of her time. Ramona was a pest! She was irascible and uncompromising! She was allowed to be angry and was not afraid to stand up to boys!
Miss Binney, who could understand that Santa Claus in the chimney would make a fireplace smoke, might be disappointed if she knew Ramona had given her Q ears and whiskers, because lettering was different from drawing pictures.
Ramona loved Miss Binney so much that she did not want to disappoint her. Not ever. Miss Binney was the nicest teacher in the whole world.
Looks like I never posted my Ladies of Literature: Vol 2 piece in it’s entirety! Beverly Cleary’s books were my favorites as a kid, especially the Ramona series. This scene is from the second book, Ramona the Pest.
The Ramona series began in 1955 (most were written in the ’70s and ’80s). I didn’t start these books thinking they would be relevant to us. Instead, I worried that they’d be too much of a throwback, too picture perfect, too Norman Rockwell. Sure, there’s a lot of skirts and saddle shoes in the early books, but at their heart they’re stories about family and what it’s like to be just one small person in a family that’s doing their best to keep everyone happy and afloat. It reminded me as a parent how little control my kids may feel over our lives, and how much they are capable of. Ramona watches her whole world change over and over again. She’s given responsibility even if she’s not quite ready for it all the time, because her family needs her. She spends a while staying at Howie’s house after school with his awful grandmother, and Ramona hates it, but she knows her whole family’s careful plan to get through each day will fall apart if she doesn’t.
That post about how blue eyes are always compared to the ocean or the sky reminded me of how in one of the Ramona Quimby books she compared Willa Jean’s eyes to the “blue plastic handle of her toothbrush” anyone who ever doubted that Beverly Cleary is the actual best can go home.