Ramona for Being There

Sometimes I wonder if author Beverly Cleary has survived for so long – 104 hearts and kisses years old – because she is the world’s best writer. Of course there is no direct relationship between writing well and living long. Really. I don’t believe it… at all. Ahem.

Me and Beverly go way back – in my mind. I spent a lot of time in Maryland shopping malls. My mum would drop me off at the bookstore and go look through that Liz Claiborne petite range. I can still smell the florals.

Can’t dissociate any of it without Beverly Cleary. I loved her single books like Socks, to series such as Henry Huggins. But I loved Ramona best of all. Oh wait. I also liked Ralph the Motorcycle Mouse, but I haven’t read him in a really long time.

Seeing Ramona books in Grenada’s Spiceland Mall bookstore last September was a visceral punch. I snapped them up. Delph reads more YA stuff to herself now; Five Feet Apart, All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, etc, but Ramona still works well when reading aloud. I’ve learned this. Keep the reading aloud books different to the books you want to read under the covers.

Ramona made me happy in those Maryland malls… and she does now. Firstly, Delphine enjoys reading the books. Secondly, they are still teaching about human behaviour. In fact, they are proving quite useful – especially during these strange times.

Living on a boat with two teenage bears is having its moments. Not surprising. Also living on a boat in lockdown, in a country that is beautiful but isn’t ours, and without being able to do what boats do best – which is to move around, well, say no more. Without being able to distract ourselves with other things, heck at times just anything, we have to sit – and feel it. Enter Ramona.

Delph and I have just finished reading the first book – Ramona and Beezus. Ramona is about 4 years old here – and I’d forgotten how naughty she is! Among other things, Ramona organises a party without telling anyone in her house and then decides to tell her party guests the cookies they’re eating are made out of worms. Ha! When her classmates don’t want to eat them anymore, she starts to meltdown. Later, she ruins her sister’s birthday cake twice – once by adding full, shelled eggs to the blender, and the second time by putting her rubber doll, Bendix into the oven.

Her mum is really good with her. Mrs Quimby’s voice goes all low when she sends Ramona to her room. Ramona gets sent to her room a lot. Her mum warns Ramona not to come out until she is ready to behave herself.

Listening to Delph read it, my ears began to tingle. Of course! The next time my own teenagers behaved badly, I tried something different.

My mum laughed at me when I told her. ‘You mean, you’ve waited until they’re teenagers to finally send them to their rooms?’

Like Ramona, I felt pink and proud of myself. ‘I know. Better late than never, right?’

Next: Ramona the Pest.