Friday, March 23, 2007

Ramona and the Gang


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 Would I find them outdated?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).

Fun fun!

No comments: