This is another children’s book I was re-reading via audio book. While the Ramona books are often seen as a series by itself, they are actually part of a much bigger series about the children of the neighborhood. As the children are born and grow up they have books from their point of view. As they “age out,” Cleary picks another character and that character takes on the point of view of the next book. Cleary switches her main character between sexes and families, but like recurring characters on a soap, neighborhood people keep appearing in a through line in the story. This series is a unique achievement in children’s books and a brilliant compromise between writing different characters and keeping a series.
This was one of that was read to me in my Third Grade classroom. I liked it so much I bought another book from the series in the next school book order. I especially enjoyed the bit where Ramona cracked an egg on her head and has to go to the nurses office. It rings true. I still get a thrill whenever I see or hear a reference to SSR or Sustained Silent Reading, thinking about how much Ramona enjoyed it.
As an adult it’s an interesting set up. I wonder if the TV ads Ramona watches and talks about when still make sense to kids as those ads (while from very long running campaigns – the dancing cat and I can’t believe I ate the whole thing) are long gone.
One theme of the story really made me pause. The family was struggling so much with money. It makes you wonder at how really well the economy is doing now as those ideas about everyday people having to skimp and make do to get by without being considered poor are so far gone from popular culture now. The difference is striking. Watching old TV shows recently from the 1970s and early 1980s, I notice how common and expected it is for the family have to save up to do something or to not be able to afford something. When is the last time you saw that on a current TV show? That difference must impact thinking.
Romana is first and foremost just a really good children’s book. Give Ramona to a child to read, it’s worth the time.
Last Updated January 27, 2016: I added my current signature block. I reworked the last big paragraph quite a bit. I think it reads better now.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.