In honor of a well-known author’s birthday, I figured there was no time like the present to begin my “expertise” on Retroist, which was this individual’s “expertise” for almost 50 years!
As I’m writing this, on April 12, 2019, it is author’s Beverly Cleary’s 103rd birthday. Cleary created a whole world of characters inhabiting a small neighborhood, in a large city in the Pacific Northwest. Those characters were, among others, Henry Huggins and the Quimby girls – Beatrice (aka Beezus) and her younger sister, Ramona, that street was Klickitat Street, the city was the Grant Park section of Portland, and that state is Oregon.
Klickitat Street’s adorably mischievous Ramona Quimby, one of my favorite literary characters of all time, truly had an imagination like no other, and became the inspiration to work on my Retroist expertise through her many adventures, crossing through books, to television, even to film. I haven’t explored her world in a long time, so this adventure has me excited to revisit an old friend.
The World of Ramona Quimby
Ramona Geraldine Quimby made her literary debut as a toddler in the Henry Huggins series of books, beginning in 1950 as a two-year-old. Her time in Henry’s books took her to age four, when she was given more of a role in the book Beezus and Ramona, published in 1955.
This wound up being the official start of Ramona Quimby’s story, taking her to the age of five in 1968’s Ramona the Pest, age six in 1975’s Ramona the Brave, age seven in Ramona and Her Father (1977) and Ramona and Her Mother (1979), age eight in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981) and Ramona Forever (1984), and wrapping up her story at the ripe old age of nine (going on, and turning ten) in Ramona’s World in 1999. Ramona aged eight years over the course of 49 years (and you thought The Simpson kids aged slowly – or not at all), but her story extended across several generations of readers.
Ramona Beyond the Pages
Proving that Ramona’s imagination knew no bounds, and could not be confined to the written word, she expanded her horizons to both television and the movies (because you know Ramona would have loved that kind of attention!).
The first adaptation of Ramona’s story was the television series Ramona, starring a young Sarah Polley as the adorable eight-year-old. The ten-episode series, which ran from September 1988 until January 1989, covered various parts of Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona and Her Father, and Ramona Forever. It is completely faithful to the stories, and if you’ve read the books, the episodes are exactly as one would picture the books to be.
The series aired on CBC in Canada and PBS in the United States, saw home video releases through Lorimar, and is even on YouTube. The opening credits are super cute as well.
In 2010, 20th Century Fox, released Ramona and Beezus, based on the books (but with some elements changed slightly, while maintaining the original concept), starring Selena Gomez as Beezus, and Joey King (in her debut) as the imaginative ball of energy, Ramona.
I do have this movie – I got it sight unseen when it was released on DVD awhile ago in a bout of nostalgic love for the books and the 1980s TV series. However, I’ve been hesitant to see it, though I’ve never heard anything negative about it.
The End of Ramona’s Story
Ramona’s final book, Ramona’s World, was also Beverly Cleary’s final book as she moved into retirement. Cleary stated that she was happy to leave her as is before the puberty stage, which she considers a nightmare, and that writers need to know when to retire. In 1995, Cleary, in response to Ramona when she grows up, that she will be alright, and “She’ll do something creative. She liked to draw because her father liked to draw. Children often live out their parents’ frustrations.” (Source: Mental Floss – 10 Facts About Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Books)
Ramona’s story ends as she turns ten years old, her maturity growing, and with the hope that the world will always continue to be an amazing place for her.
My Memories…and My “Expertise”
I read Ramona’s books, beginning with Ramona and Her Mother, in third grade. Between third and fourth grades, I read the entire series released up to that point in the early 1990s. I’ve never read Ramona’s World, since it came out in 1999, and well, tenth graders don’t look cool reading Beverly Cleary books. Ramona’s stories aren’t the only ones I’ve read – I read Dear Mr. Henshaw, Ellen Tebbits, Ralph S. Mouse, Runaway Ralph, and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I’ve even seen the live action adaptations of the Ralph stories, and the Ramona series – all in fourth grade. My brother read Strider for a book report in fourth grade – I think it was on my bookshelf originally, but I never read it.
Going through the list, I wonder why I didn’t continue to read Beverly Cleary’s novels, but as you all know (because I’ve talked about it before), I’m a Baby-Sitters Club fan, and I was pretty heavy into those around the same time I read Cleary’s books. Conversely, I was never a huge Judy Blume fan outside of the Fudge series.
Scholastic book fairs were probably a financial nightmare, but it kept me in books AND Book-It Pizza Hut Coupons.
(That’s a whole other story!)
Oh, and the expertise thing I mentioned earlier…
Retroist writers are now tackling exploring different nostalgic topics and really diving into them. My expertise is going to be to cover the series – starting from the beginning with the books, and working my way through them and their connection to the television series.
And yes, I’ll probably see the movie too.
I hope you’ll join me on my endeavor, and enjoy the story of the little girl with the BIG imagination!
Just remember to bring hard-boiled eggs.
She can be found at allisonveneziowrites.com.You can follow her blog on Facebook (facebook.com/allisonswrittenwords), Instagram @allisonswrittenwords, and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
(Her fiancee is supportive of the whole Chris Hemsworth and Kenny Loggins love thing.)