Saturday, 30 April 2011

Q is for… Quimby, Ramona

That’s a nifty get-around for the letter ‘Q’ isn’t it? As a child, I adored the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. One of the pleasures of the books for me, growing up in England, was reading and puzzling out ‘exotic’ words like ‘kindergarten’, ‘sidewalk’, ‘steam shovels’, and ‘locomotives’. But the main draw was the character of Ramona herself – Beverly Cleary completely nails the way children act and think – and so Ramona becomes universal, much loved by all.

One of the things I liked about Ramona was her imagination, and how events that seemed logical to her completely baffled grown-ups. This appealed to me as I was always getting into similar misunderstandings with the adults in my life, who simply didn’t understand the way I played. Such as I used to pretend the stairs was a waterfall, and a favourite game was sending dolls to rescue one-another from the ‘rapids’. I used to tie them to the banisters (in order so they wouldn’t get swept away) and the only way to tie them securely was around their neck. In my world they were just holding on to the ropes while they did another daring rescue; in my parent’s world it looked like I was staging a doll mass-murder by hanging. So I fully sympathised with and understood Ramona’s behaviour.

It is amazing to think that the first book featuring Ramona (Beezus and Ramona) was published in 1955, and the last one (Ramona’s World) was published in 1999. Over forty years, and still Ramona is going strong. The illustrations play a big part in this - the earlier ones especially, like the one below by Louis Darling, capture expressions and emotions so well. He was also brilliant at showing movement.

The Ramona Series
Published: 1955 - 1999
Author: Beverly Cleary
Illustrator for pictured: Louis Darling (left), Thelma Lambert (top)

Imaginative fact one: I used to practice flying by jumping from my cupboard onto my bed, flapping my arms.

Imaginative fact two: One of my favourite games as a child was playing ‘libraries’, piling my books up on the stairs.

Imaginative fact three: I also used to build ‘tree’-houses on the stairs; each step was a different room. My family weren't impressed.

Imaginative fact four: Another much-loved game was sitting in a cardboard box on the lawn and pretending I was in a boat crossing the sea.

Imaginative fact five: I was mad keen on pretending to be a spy, and would practice quickly changing my clothes or appearance, and cutting holes out of newspapers to watch my mum cooking dinner. The only problem was that casually hanging around the kitchen, pretending to read the newspaper, and wearing a false moustache, was quite conspicuous behaviour for a spy – especially when you are a girl aged seven.


Laura Marcella said...

I love all your imaginative facts!!! You and I would've been wonderful playmates!

The Ramona series was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I most identified with "Ramona the Pest" because of how she yearned for those red boots and wanted to jump in puddles and wanted her stick-straight hair to be curly. I knew exactly how Ramona felt!

Great choice for Q!

Old Kitty said...

Yay for your imaginative facts and lovely tolerant family! LOL!!!

Thanks for the intro into the wonderful world of Ramona Quimby! take care

The Words Crafter said...

It's been so many years since I read any Ramona I love your imagination! Sounds like you had lots of fun :)

Brianna said...

I loved Ramona. I had no idea how old she was ;) Universal indeed.

Loved the imaginative facts!

catdownunder said...

My mother would have said, "Don't be ridiculous!" Then she would have found some work for me to do instead. I kept all such thoughts in my head!

Jarmara Falconer said...

What wonderful images of your childhood you draw. I love the picture of you being a spy!

Out on the prairie said...

Love these books, I have had many read them when they were unsure of what to read.The positive side is that they did let us know our immaginations were a passage into the unknown, and fun to enjoy.

Deniz Bevan said...

Love Ramona! I still long to jump in puddles with red boots on when spring arrives.

Plain Jane said...

Most of my childhood games also revolved around staircases. I LOVE RAMONA!

Rebecca Dupree said...

Oh my gosh, my son plays "libraries" all the time!

RG Pyper said...

Ramona reminds me so much of my daughter! Though my daughter is yet only 4. I will be sharing these classic books with her very soon - I think she and Ramona will get along splendidly.

Hey, it's been great discovering your blog just now. Too bad I didn't discover it before the challenge was over. But, no worries, I'm following now and look forward to getting to know you! :)

Muay Thai Los Angeles said...

I had absolutely no idea that it had been around that long! I remember reading Beverly Clearly books (like Romona) when I was younger, but hadn't thought it was still published long after I grew up. Simply amazing- and just goes to show that Romona's spirit and fun goes as long as the books did.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Loved your imaginative facts! I once had a student that I was sure was the model for Ramona. It was as if Clear had peeked into this student's brain and then written down what she saw. :-)

Pam Torres said...

It was so nice to remember that Ramona has been around since 1955. I just had my granddaughter read Beezus and Ramona and she loved it. It appears you have and had a keen imagination. I used to dig holes in the back yard to create an underground home like Peter Pan. Finally, after exasperating my parents repeatedly they gave me a corner in the backyard and told me I could dig to my hearts content. When I realized that one foot was all I could manage I widened it so I could fit a chair and table, dad even gave me some carpet to line the ground. Funny, I haven't thought of that in a long time. :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Edward and Apple's dog-sitter is named Ramona. I buy her Ramona books all the time!!