Author: Beverly Cleary
Age Range: 7-9
Interest Range: 7-9
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Plot: Ramona is starting the third grade, but that’s not the only new thing going on in her family. Her sister is now in Junior High, her dad is going back to school to become a teacher, and now her mother is working full-time to support them all. Things have definitely changed in the Quimby household. Ramona likes the third grade. She doesn’t let Yard Ape get the best of her, she gets to read great books during Sustained Silent Reading, and she really likes her teacher- or at least she did until she overheard Mrs. Whaley telling the secretary that Ramona was a show-off and a nuisance. What did Ramona do? Getting egg on her face at lunch wasn’t her fault, and neither was getting sick in class…but she did squeak her new shoes really loudly one day. Could that have been it? Things were already tense at home, and now Ramona’s feeling uncertain in school. Will she be able to play nice with her babysitter’s kids? Will her mother lose her job and her father have to drop out of school? And will she ever be able to make a book report interesting without being a show-off?
Review: This was a sweet little book. Ramona has a lot going on around her and definitely deals well with all of it. She has her uncertainties about what her parents are going through, and knows her responsibilities within the family even though she might not be happy about them. But overall she just wants to do well in school, not annoy her teacher, and be of help where she can at home. I was worried that the book might be a bit dated since it came out in the early 1980s, but the only thing that seemed out of place was the reference to a cigarette machine. That one small detail aside, this book could easily still be enjoyed by second and third graders today. I feel like it might even be more relevant today since many parents are going back to school and having to juggle that with family life. That idea could be confusing for a child, and reading a story about another family going through the same thing could alleviate some pressure.
Themes: Changes at Home, New School, Economic Hardship
Ramona Quimby: Ramona is 8 and entering the 3rd grade. She is smart and loves to draw like her father, and she hates having to be nice to Willa Jean (the babysitter’s annoying granddaughter) but knows that that’s her job in the Quimby family. Ramona enjoys getting small presents from her dad and likes doing well in school.
Beezus (Beatrice) Quimby: Ramona’s older sister who is in the 8th grade and going to Junior High this year. Beezus and Ramona seem to have a pretty good relationship, and we witness her 8th grade experiences through the bits and pieces that Ramona picks up: being invited to a party with girls and boys, going to sleepovers with friends.
Mr. Quimby: After tiring of his job as a supermarket checkout clerk, the Quimbys have saved enough money for Mr. Quimby to go back to school. He’s studying to become and art teacher.
Mrs. Quimby: The girls’ mother, who is now working full time to cover expenses while Mr. Quimby is taking classes and working a part-time job.
Cleary, B. (1981). Ramona Quimby, Age 8. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
The third-grade is full of exciting things to learn: cursive and book reports and fruit flies are keeping Ramona busy. But why does Ramona’s teacher all of a sudden think she’s a show-off and a nuisance? She’s just trying to do a good job and fit in at a new school!