Wednesday, July 28, 2010

100% Ramona Quimby

I had the choice between reading two books: The Boxcar Children or Ramona the Pest. Somehow, children who lived in a boxcar by themselves did not sound interesting to me. My second grade teacher suggested that I read about Ramona because she would interest me. I quickly went back to my desk and started reading. I couldn’t stop. Like Ramona, I too lived in an uncomprehending world where things rarely went as planned and had times when no one understood me. When I was done reading my first chapter book, I was eager to continue on with Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (which in my opinion is the best of the whole series -- I think I'm on my fourth copy of it now). Beverly Cleary continues to open the doors to the wondrous world of reading and I'm elated that her books are still around and that I can pass it on to readers today.

Last night, I saw it on the big screen.

The movie really captured the characters. Bea is the loving, supportive aunt who understands Ramona's frustrations and jumbled feelings. Bob, Ramona's father, is the artist and comedian of the family. Beezus is the "perfect" older sister who loves her family but is often embarrassed by them... And Ramona is the still the artistic, lovable, accident prone little girl who is really trying to grow up -- even though her antics often reflect otherwise.

All in all, it was a good movie with a lot of scenes from the books. I did feel it was a little crammed with situations and Ramona's antics, but on the other hand, the constant action really reflected Ramona's energy. There were also two plot issues I didn't like (but I'm not going to tell you, otherwise I'd spoil part of the climax) and am sad that "Yard Ape" was missing. But I'm willing to let that go. I mean, hey, it's the movie adaptation of an entire series. I was a creative writing major in both under grad and grad school -- which included a lot of lit criticism -- there's bound to be some disagreeing here. What kills a book-made-into-a-movie is when they completely change the themes and heart of the story (like Peter Pan and 101 Dalmatians. Disney totally massacred those!). But the movie Ramona and Beezus has Beverly Cleary's style and comedy written all over it. I even heard from several articles that Cleary was involved in writing the script! Plus, it was great to see Ramona find herself in new situations and watch her come alive in a whole new way.

Contrary to many reviews, this movie is NOT based on Beezus and Ramona, which focuses more on Beezus and her exasperation with her four year old sister, Ramona. The movie is:

25% Ramona and her Father
22% Ramona and her Mother
16% Ramona Forever
14% Ramona Quimby, Age 8
12% Ramona's World
11% Ramona the Brave

These books -- as well as the movie -- contain little television, no cell phones, and no computers. It's pure awesomeness, or in Ramona's words, is "terrifical". It's fun to jump around when reading this series, rather than go in order (or maybe I'm just being biased because that's how I read them). Ramona is a classic character in the world of children's literature. If you haven't read this series, DO! You won't be sorry. Out of the hundreds of people I've discussed and recommended these books to, only two people did not like them. So, I'm going to claim that 99% of readers will fall in love with Ramona and want to keep reading about her life on Klickitat Street.


nannyt said...

Did you ever see the Ramona TV show? I can't even remember what station it was on, but as a kid I was a HUGE Ramona fan - I couldn't get enough of the TV show.

I also read somewhere that Beverly Clearly actually purposefully asked that the movie not contain a lot of pop culture - she wanted it to be timeless, like the stories themselves. I can't wait to see the movie! Thanks for the recap!

Emily said...

You're very welcome! I hope you enjoy the movie and have an opportunity to re-read the whole Ramona series soon. I LOVED the television show -- they captured the essence of the characters exactly. They were on PBS and some libraries still have copies of the VHS tapes.

Thank God for authors like Beverly Cleary. I hate it when books are cluttered with pop culture (movies too). There's so much more to life!