I knew this day was coming. You’d made it to 104. But when I heard Friday that you’d passed away, I still wasn’t ready for it. You taught me so much about being a kid. You helped me become an avid reader. Somehow, though I’m not sure how it’s possible, I’ve come to love your books even more as a grown-up. All of them are perfectly perfect, but your Ramona books stole my heart.
Ramona, who feels like a pesky-kid sister, the neighborhood kid, our very selves in her understanding of the world, in her need to be heard, her playful curiosity, those impulsive decisions (who can forget the temptation of pulling Susan’s curls?), that wild joy (Halloween!). We love her because we were her once — silly and bold and in need of compassion. Because that was your genius: You never shied away from childhood’s awkward and even painful moments — the embarrassment of throwing up in class, that feeling of being misunderstood (and kicking the walls in frustration). Though you wrote with humor, you never poked fun at Ramona’s earnestness — naming her doll Chevrolet, the most beautiful name she’d ever heard, or her demand from the top of the jungle gym “I want some P.T.A!” (Believing it had to be something tasty since things like c-h-i-p-s and c-o-o-k-i-e-s were always spelled out at home.) In taking your readers through Ramona’s world, close-to-the-bone and through-her-eyes true, we lived right alongside her. We love her because you loved her first, a regular girl right there on the page.
Thank you for reminding me what it’s like to be a child in this largely grown-up world. Thank you for teaching me to be patient with my children back in the days they were silly and curious and in need of compassion. (Really, do those days ever end?) Thank you for inspiring me to create characters I hope have an ounce of the humanity you gave your girl. It was comforting knowing you were somewhere out there — a connection to my childhood and my own story world. Now that you’re gone, you will be missed. I’m so glad your stories will carry on.
Thank you, Beverly Cleary, for creating such a memorable, remarkable character, the one-of-a-kind Ramona, the brightest star in middle grade universe. My writing — and living — are better for it.
“Ramona stands for empathy in the face of misunderstanding. She reminds us how it was to be a child in a big world, needing to be seen, cared for, and reminded that we belong.”
How Ramona Quimby Helps Kids Make Sense of this Unstable World :: Lit Hub
“Sixty-five years of illustrations from Beverly Cleary’s beloved books.”
Ramona Quimby: Still Spry at 65 :: Fine Books Magazine
“Two of Ramona’s most prickling fears are impossibly intertwined: first, that her affection for all those most important to her goes unrequited, and second, that she cannot be loved for precisely who she is—impetuous, temperamental, profoundly sensitive, and, yes, a little bit of a show-off. Her fondness, once coaxed, thumps ardently from her staunch and earnest heart.”
How Ramona Quimby Taught a Generation of Girls to Embrace Brashness :: Lit Hub
“Though Ramona isn’t from any one particular time period, she has to feel real at the moment she’s being read, and to do that, even the smallest details have to ring true to her readers. So even though Ramona looks anachronistic in her newer iterations, it’s these very inaccuracies that make her all the more real.”
Ramona Forever :: The Paris Review
“I understood what a children’s book is supposed to be. It’s writing from inside the kid’s world, inside the kid’s perspective, almost from inside the kid’s eyeballs. Beverly Cleary doesn’t tell us what Ramona’s experiencing; she doesn’t separate herself far enough from Ramona to tell us. She doesn’t say “Ramona’s mother would never forget her, but Ramona was worried that she might.” She doesn’t even insert herself into proceedings to say “Ramona thought for a moment that her mother would forget her.” Nope, Beverly Cleary gives the story to Ramona herself to experience, and she does it by withdrawing herself from the equation.”
Ramona Quimby and the Art of Writing from a Kid’s Mind :: Lit Hub
Jessica Lawson says
A lovely tribute!
Thank you. <3