Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Lover Highlights from Portland inspires a reread of Ramona books

I recently returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon where I visited my daughter.  We had a wonderful time! Lots of food, drinks and sightseeing! A highlight for me was visiting Powell's City of Books. My husband and I spent several hours there - mostly in the children's section. As my husband hauled my basket of books around it kept getting heavier and heavier. We were delighted to find out they would ship my purchases back to New York for a very nominal shipping fee. Today the UPS guy showed up with my box of books. It's like Christmas in July!

You can watch the video to see all the goodies I purchased.

In case you are wondering about the title on the bookcase- Beverly Cleary, author of the beloved Ramona series, is from Portland.  In fact, because I am such a nerd, I visited the Beverly Cleary sculpture garden which is in Grant Park.  Now I want to reread the books.  It's been awhile.


My visit to Portland inspired me to reread a couple of Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. They are just as wonderful as I recall, and reminded me of the Ramona series that ran on PBS during the 80's.  My own children loved watching the series.

Ramona the Pest

In this book Ramona is preparing to go to Kindergarten. She is very excited and can't wait to learn to read and write. Along with her neighbor, Howie, they walk to school each morning. One of my favorite parts is the chapter about Ramona's new red boots.  They are the kind that fit on over your shoes - these are the kind that I remember having.  Ramona loves splashing through puddles and mud with her boots.  When Ramona gets stuck in the mud Henry has to save her by picking her up and carrying her out of the mud.  Ramona's need to be loved by her teacher is something that all children can relate to, but was particularly touching for me as a teacher.  The sibling relationship between Ramona and Beezus is perfectly accurate too. As the oldest of threes girls I fear that I was as bossy and sometimes as insensitive as Beezus. Beverly Cleary is so good at conveying a child's point of view that I find myself always siding with Ramona!

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

In this book Ramona is growing up and now preparing for third grade.  There are lots of changes for the Quimby family and as usual we get Ramona's sensitive, yet humorous perspective on it all.  Beezus seems to becoming a typical almost teenager as she prepares for junior high.  Ramona gets to take the bus and go to a new school.  Mrs. Quimby has started a job, while Mr. Quimby is going back to school.  From family arguments to throwing up at school this book is filled with typical scenes that most readers have experienced in their own lives.  One of my favorite chapters is when Mr. And Mrs. Quimbly require Ramona and Beezus to cook dinner one night after they both complain about a meal their mom prepared. I love how these parents teach their children important lessons and hold them accountable . There is nothing like sharing a punishment to draw siblings together, so they can complain how mean their parents are! The cooking scene is hilarious.

The Ramona series would make great read alouds as well as good independent choices for readers who like the Junie B. Jones and Clementine series.  If you have forgotten about the wonderful Ramona series give it a try or recommend it to a young reader - I think the stories are still relatable even though Beverly Cleary started writing them 50 years ago!

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden - Grant Park
Portland Oregon - Ramona, Henry and Ribsy

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