Ramona and Her Father is another installment in the life of the Quimbys. Within, Mrs. Cleary maintains her characteristic anecdotal style, but she’s tied her chapters more fully together to give us a glimpse inside the mind of this precocious child. And to our surprise, we find a regular girl with logical reasons for her outlandish behavior. Ramona is scared of the changes taking place within her family. Her father has lost his job, her big sister has entered the moody junior high years, and her mother is so busy working she has little time or energy to spare.
Ramona daydreams about helping the family by being on a television commercial and earning a million dollars. Caught up in her playacting, she fashions a crown of burrs–that stick together “better than Tinker-toys”–and places it on her head like the girl on tv. That evening the burrs must be cut out of her hair. Another time she covers the house with signs to persuade her father to stop smoking so his lungs won’t turn black and so he won’t die, but they come back to haunt her. Yet in the end, the Quimby family remains intact, with plenty of love to go around no matter how ridiculous one of their members may behave.
“I love you, Daddy.”
“I know you do. That’s why you want me to stop smoking, and I love you too.”
“Even if I’m a brat sometimes?”
“Even if you’re a brat sometimes.”
Ramona thought awhile before she sat up and said, “Then why can’t we be a happy family?”
For some reason Mr. Quimby smiled. “I have news for you, Ramona,” he said. “We are a happy family.”
“We are?” Ramona was skeptical.
“Yes, we are.” Mr. Quimby was positive. “No family is perfect. Get that idea out of your head. And nobody is perfect either. All we can do is work at it. And we do.”
Beverly Cleary has delivered a sweet, funny and positive story in this Newbery Honor Book. I consider it one of her absolute best.
Read more of my Beverly Cleary reviews.