Tag Archives: Beverly Cleary

On the Death of Beverly Cleary

In the ten plus years of writing Literary Vice I’ve never commented on the death of an author (though I’m sure I’ve rambled about the death of the author at some point). And for good reason. While I have favourites whose work I seek out and enjoy, I’m mostly not bothered by biography or terribly interested in the what’s what of an author.

But I wanted to mark Beverly Cleary’s death because her books, and the Ramona series in particular, matter to me. I’ve written here before on how Ramona offered me a certainty and comfort in moments of distress and it remains true these quiet stories of a remarkably curious, imaginative and determined girl, achingly aware of how she is meant to fit in but never quite does… resonate.

One of the best gifts I received when I was pregnant with R. was the boxed set of Beverly Cleary. The gift, from C., was intended, I’m sure, for R. but was, of course, for me. I remember opening it and being so excited for the moment I’d be able to share the stories with a small human, and excited more for how that small human might also come to love a world of true-to-a-child challenges overcome by persistence, caring adults and asking for help. Sort of like the world I hoped might be possible for my child.

R. listened to Ramona for the better part of an hour tonight (I’m no hero, we have the audiobooks out from the library), as he has for the past months since discovering them. And now he asks simply for “another Ramona” and I have accrued a small fortune in fines because he Cannot Part with Ramona the Pest. And I cannot say no to a small human who loves Ramona as I do.

I know Ramona doesn’t and can’t connect for all readers the way it did for me, and so I offer this note of appreciation without my usual urging that you seek it out for yourself or a child you know and love. More that I wanted to say I am grateful – always – for the magic worked by stories. And grateful for the work of Beverly Cleary in creating and sharing Ramona with me. These are books I love.

1 Comment

Filed under Erin's Favourite Books, Popular Posts

Ramona Quimb(l)y to the Rescue

                

I’m trying to write a lot these days. Writing things that I feel neither confident about or certain are worth writing, and so I spend a lot of time plagued with self-doubt. Enter Ramona Quimby, whose name I consistently misremember and mispronounce as Ramona Quimbly. I first met Ramona as a child, probably aged 8 or 9. I remember reading her stories and thinking ‘yes!’ and feeling like I understood everything Ramona went through. I loved that bad things happened to Ramona, but that she continued on being brave, being peppy, and giving her all to the world. So now, much older, when I have my occasional moments (or as of late, my frequent moments) of insecurity – when I feel exactly as I did at aged 9 when I wasn’t quite sure whether anything I did was right, or mattered – I return to Ramona. I’ve been on a bit of a stint: reading ‘Ramona the Brave’, ‘Ramona Quimby: Aged 8’, and ‘Beezus and Ramona.’ I don’t know whether the books themselves bring me comfort, or whether reading them reminds me of being 9 and well looked after by my parents, but whatever the cause, reading Ramona makes things feel better. I can’t in good conscience recommend Ramona, because perhaps you never read her as a child, or perhaps you don’t identify with precocious, misunderstood little girls, so maybe I’ll just suggest that you read it if you’re interested in finding out what it’s like to be a little kid and overwhelmed by the world. Or maybe returning to your own childhood “yes!’ book – because they really do make everything feel a little bit better.

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Young Adult Fiction