A Visit to a Childhood Friend: “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” by Beverly Cleary
First of all, can we talk about how much better the book cover was on the edition I grew up reading?
Edition of my youth:
Like many things from my youth (Strawberry Shortcake looks like a Bratz doll now), the Ramona franchise has gotten a re-boot, a sprucing up, a movie (which I haven’t seen, but looks woefully inaccurate) and some new, hipper covers for the books in the series. Like the one below.
New & Hip Version:
Really – this isn’t about covers.
This is about taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting characters that were so important to my childhood that they truly felt like friends. I can name a handful of them – Scout Finch, Charlotte Doyle, Matilda – but perpetually awkward Ramona Quimby leads the pack.
“Ramona Quimby, Age 8” is continues the story of Ramona, as she enters the third grade, while dealing with family shake-ups and adjusting to a new school. The Quimby’s were never a perfect family, which was always a huge reason I was able to relate to them. They always just seemed wonderfully normal. In this book, Mr. Quimby has gone back to school to become a teacher so he doesn’t have to work at the supermarket anymore, which places Mrs. Quimby as the main bread-winner for the whole family. This means that Ramona has to go to a baby-sitters after work – where she’s forced to play nice with a precocious four year old. Ramona’s older sister, Beezus, is in junior high now and bogged down with homework as well as rapidly changing emotions. In addition, between throwing up at school and cracking an egg open on her forehead (she thought it was hard-boiled) Ramona fears she’s become a pest to her teacher.
Kids are smart, and notice changes in the world around them. Ramona worries, like many kids do. These days, she’d probably be put on anxiety meds.
Financial difficulties and squabbles over sleepovers aside, the Quimby’s were a wonderful family for young people to read about. At the end of the day, they always pulled it together and made it work – and also understood that sometimes when it’s all gone to hell, you just have to all go out to the Whopperburger.
Beverly Clearly remains the master. I breathe a little easier knowing that someday my child will meet Ramona, and find a friend like I did long ago.