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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: Ramona and Her Father

Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

Ramona Quimby's world turns upside down when her father loses his job at the van-and-storage company where he worked. Seven-year-old Ramona comes up with a plan to be in a commercial and make a million dollars. That will help the family, she thought. Her plan backfires though and now she has to try to keep the family happy. She tries jokes and saying "tommy toes" instead of tomatoes. But the stress of her mother working full time now and bills, taxes, and other expenses mounting is having a big effect on Mr. and Mrs. Quimby. Even Picky-Picky the cat is having a hard time being forced to eat the generic cat food that smells bad.

As Christmas gets closer, Ramona has to cut down her list of gifts she wants. She knows that her family doesn't have a lot of money anymore and takes everything off except "one happy family." When she volunteers to be a sheep in the Nativity scene, she also volunteers her mother into making her a sheep costume. Of course with all the time her mother is spending at the office, she doesn't have time to make Ramona the extravagant costume that all her friends have. She realizes though that it's more important for her and her family to be happy than to have a lot of things.

When I was choosing a second realistic fiction book to read, I wanted to read Ramona Quimby, Age 8, but the book was already checked out from the library. So when I saw that Ramona and Her Father was also a Newbery Honor book, I decided this would do. I remember reading the Ramona series when I was a little girl, but I don't think I ever read this book. When I was reading Ramona and Her Father, the story line seemed very similar to Ramona and Beezus, the movie that came out a couple years ago. I was surprised because I thought the movie would have been based on the book, Beezus and Ramona. In this movie, Mr. Quimby lost his job and Ramona tried so many different ways to make money for the family. It is a very cute movie. If you haven't seen it, you should definitely check it out.

In this book, Mr. Quimby and Ramona spend a lot of quality time together because he is out of a job. However, he gets stressed a lot from not getting job offers and he smokes. I was really surprised to see a character smoke so much in a children's book but then Ramona and Beezus talk to him about how unhealthy smoking is and they try to get him to stop.

This book was written in 1975. I had no idea it was written so long ago, but that just shows that Ramona Quimby is a character that children have been able to relate to and learn from for many years. Throughout the series, her character overcomes many obstacles and has fun while doing it. Ramona is a good role model for children.

1975 Cover
In the edition I read, it was a reillustrated edition by Tracy Dockary from 2006. That just means that the illustrator went back through the book and updated the characters. Children can better relate with characters that actually look like they're part of today's time. Children probably can't relate with the 1970's Ramona because for them, that was 30 years before their time!

Check out Beverly Cleary's interactive website where you can find information about all of her characters and see a map of Ramona's town!

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