Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ramona Forever

Ramona Forever

Beverly Cleary
Illustrator:  Tracy Dockray 
Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 10
HarperCollins, 1995   ISBN: 978-0380709601

Ramona does not like having to spend her afternoons after school at Howie Kemp’s house. Unfortunately, Ramona’s parents feel that she needs to have someone keep an eye on her until they get home from work, and Howie Kemp’s grandmother, Mrs. Kemp, is the only person available to do this. When Howie’s rich uncle comes to visit, Ramona quickly decides that she does not like him. Not only does he make fun of children (and embarrass them), but he also gives Howie and his little sister Willa Jean very inappropriate gifts. When Willa Jean breaks the accordion her uncle gave her, Mrs. Kemp blames Ramona, and Ramona realizes for the first time ever that Mrs. Kemp does not like her. Until this moment Ramona never considered the fact that grownups might not automatically be fond of her.

Greatly upset by this realization, Ramona tells her parents that she does not want to stay at the Kemp’s house after school any more, and she tells them why. To Ramona’s surprise, her big sister Beezus offers to watch Ramona in the afternoons, and their parents agree to give the arrangement a try for a week. Ramona is thrilled, and at first everything goes well. Then the sisters have a terrible fight and it feels as if nothing is going to repair the rift between them.

Sometimes it takes a great loss to bring people together, and this is exactly what happens with Beezus and Ramona. Beezus finds their cat Picky-picky lying in his basket and he is dead. The girls remember that their father told them not “to do anything to worry your mother,” so they work together (without fighting) to bury Picky-picky and to give him a little funeral. By the time their parents come home it is all over, and Picky-picky is in his grave in the yard.

Mr. and Mrs. Quimby are enormously impressed with how the sisters coped with the crisis. Mr. Quimby talks about how proud he is and that he hopes “we have such good luck the next time.” It would appear that Mrs. Quimby is pregnant, and Ramona is going to be a big sister.

It seems like it was only yesterday when Ramona was a little girl, “a pest,” who bothered her sister and the other older children living on Klickitat Street. Now she is making important discoveries about herself and the people around her. She is growing up, and she is learning how to solve problems and how to take care of others.

Readers who have followed Ramona’s adventures thus far will surely enjoy finding out what new mischief eight-year-old Ramona gets up to. As always, many of her observations about the world and people are funny, and as always, Ramona is wonderfully entertaining.