My library got a new a book called The Art of Ramona Quimby: Sixty-Five Years of Illustrations from Beverly Cleary’s Beloved Books by Anna Katz. Immediately after a co-worker informed me of the book, I snatched it up and started flipping through the pages to look at the art. I was so nostalgic for the Ramona Quimby series that I decided to reread the whole series and relive the fun I grew up reading over and over.
It’s probably been at least 15 years (or more) since I last read a Beverly Cleary book, but there are so many random moments from the books that I can clearly remember. Ramona riding her tricycle around the coffee table. The applesauce incident. Ramona dressing up as “the worst witch in the world.” Red rain boots. Ramona making pants for her elephant. Tin can stilts. Ramona falling through the attic. Yard Ape. The hard boiled egg incident. Uncle Hobart and tying their slippers to the back of the car. The peas incident And so much more.
I loved rereading this series and discovering so many other moments and snippets of dialogue that made me laugh and ugly sob. I love how authentic Ramona’s relationship with those around her—whether mother, father, sister, friend, or teacher—comes across and how relatable Ramona is despite these books came out decades ago and I’m now an adult.
I also love how authentic Ramona’s thought process is. If there is one thing Beverly Cleary knows, it’s how children think and act. She absolutely captures the hopes and dreams and worries and fears of children in her stories. I’ve read some children’s books where that is not the case.
As a kid, I always wanted my life to be as exciting and imaginative as Ramona’s was. But reading these now, I’ve figured out two things. 1. I’m definitely more like Beezus (but with Ramona’s imagination) and 2. There isn’t anything crazy exciting about Ramona’s life that makes her that different. She’s a girl, just like I was, just like many girls are. She just happens to get herself into these crazy situations, which are fun.
Rereading these makes me want to reread all of Beverly Cleary books (and finally read those few that slipped under my radar). I think I’ll start with Henry Huggins and Ribsy since those books are part of my second favorite of her series. Plus, I’ve always thought that when they got older Henry and Ramona might actually get married, just like Ramona says she will in Ramona the Pest.
But first, I want to look through that artbook once again.