Ramona the Pest

by Beverly Cleary

original illustrator: Louis Darling

New York: William Morrow, 1968

pp. 192      (8 chapters)

Age: 5 and up    (good too for older, beginning readers)

Interests: kindergarten, school, siblings

In which the rambunctious Ramona Quimby starts kindergarten. The first day of school, meeting her teacher, show and tell, seatwork, her first crush, playground games, a substitute teacher, rainy days and new boots, Hallowe’en… Ramona charges through every situation with her trademark noisy exuberance. She doesn’t mean to be bad, but just can’t help herself sometimes. And on one very bad day an impulsive act compounded by her stubbornness leads to her becoming (temporarily) a kindergarten dropout.

The world of kindergarten is brilliantly depicted from a five-year-old’s point of view. Every instance of bad behaviour has a good, though misguided, reason behind it, and Ramona is revealed to be good at heart, truthful and wildly creative. The only trouble is that she can also be impetuous, careless, jealous, obstinate and self-centred. Sound like any 5-year-olds you know? Ramona is a complex and unpredictable little girl, though deep down her motivations are simple: all she really wants is to not be seen as a baby, and to win her beloved teacher’s approval. In the shadow of a know-it-all older sister, you sometimes just have to make a little more noise to be heard. All younger siblings should see a little bit of themselves in this book, and many of her experiences in kindergarten should be familiar to all.

Beverly Cleary wrote many books around the characters of Beezus and Ramona, and Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, so there are many other books to read after this one. Ramona is the youngest of the Cleary cast of characters, and perhaps the most beloved, because she is such a live wire. For more on Ramona, see:

Beezus and Ramona (1955)

Ramona the Brave (1975)

Ramona and her Father (1977)

Ramona and her Mother (1979)

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981)

Ramona Forever (1984)

Ramona’s World (1999)

Ramona the Pest is a great book for kids, but even more than that, it should be required reading for all kindergarten teachers! And for anyone trying to figure out why children do what they do.

p.s. For those who might be concerned, there is one brief reference at the start of chapter 7 in which Ramona comes to the conclusion that the tooth fairy is not real, and the coins are actually left by her father. (I don’t know if ‘spoilers’ like this matter to anyone?)

       

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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