Friday, March 23, 2007
THE BEVERLY CLEARY CHALLENGE: 35 BOOKS BY APRIL 12
When I was a child, checking out books at the St. Charles Parish Public Library, there were no books I loved more and reread more than Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books. I even had a Ramona diary: it was a red and white cover with an illustration of Ramona skipping (or something like that). The diary had several writing prompts, I think, and it had stickers, which was the coolest thing about it.
(Here it is, except that is a different cover. I like the one I had better.)
When I started library school and began to study children’s literature, I reread the Ramona books. It had been many, many years since I had read the books (I hadn’t even read Ramona’s World). Would I find them outdated? Were they as great as I remembered?
I loved them. I adored them. Sure, some minor details were obviously from another era, but the Ramona books were already from another era when I read them in the mid-eighties. I didn’t even realize that the earlier Ramona books were written several years before I read them as a child until I reread them as an adult. I loved that the books remained timeless: sisters still argued but still pulled together when called to do so, families still worried about unemployment, and the prospect of a new baby sister or brother was always a fascinating but worrying time.
When I became a children’s librarian almost three years ago and happily discovered that the Ramona books still enjoyed popularity with school age children, I knew I wanted to create a Ramona program. Spurred on by last year’s Drop Everything and Read promotion for Cleary’s 90th birthday, I created a Ramona Quimby program in honor of Mrs. Cleary’s 91st birthday. (Check here for program information at all three branches.)
When I was creating the program, I used the Ramona books for suggestions and reference. I thought it would be fun to reread and review every single book that Cleary wrote. While I’m familiar with the Ramona books, I have only vague memories (and sometimes, don’t even know if I read them) of the other books (save for Ellen Tebbits, since I was a dance-obsessed child, and Dear Mr. Henshaw, which I did reread several times).
I’ll have reviews starting April 1, and will review every day until April 12 (Beverly Cleary’s birthday party).
Posted by Jennifer Schultz at Friday, March 23, 2007