Monday, December 10, 2012

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

1981, 1992 Avon Camelot edition
Beverly Cleary
Illustrated by Alan Tiegreen
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Bought newish for $4.50
Slightly worn paperback

I don't remember owning Beverly Cleary books as a kid.  They were the sort I'd get out of the library.  Books I liked but didn't love.  I feel the same way about this one, rereading it as an adult.  This comes fairly late in the series, with Ramona four years older than when she was introduced in Henry Huggins, back in 1950, and two books before the last (to date), Ramona's World (1999), where she turns ten.  Although Mrs. Quimby has a job and Mr. Quimby has gone back to college, it's still a very 1950s world.  It was weird to see references to not only the Meow Mix commercial (which I recall as mid to late '70s), but also the "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" Alka-Seltzer ad, which was almost a decade old at the time of this book.  Somehow these attempts at topicality make the book more dated.

The more timeless moments are Ramona's quarrels at home and humiliations in school, particularly throwing up.  Cleary has insight into how kids, parents, and teachers think, although she does verge on cliche, as with the sisters messily making dinner.  And the Tiegreen illustrations are cute, but again, not terribly original.

This won the Newbery Honor book, with A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, which I've never read, getting the MedalI don't have any other children's books till 1983, so I can't say if this was deserved, but I think the Honor was partially given in nostalgic appreciation.  Even 30 years ago, Cleary was already a living legend.  She's obviously not my favorite children's author, but it's nice to know she's still around at 96.

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