Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

This might seem like an odd book for this list, I don't know. It will probably seem less odd, however, if you consider that this was the follow-up bedtime story book to Mrs. PiggleWiggle. There are some interesting parallels between the two. Both are set in a time that my boys would associate with their grandparents; a world where mothers stayed at home and the fathers worked, and every kid in town has a mother and a father to speak of. Neither contain any racy action scenes and both end up with good down-to-earth moral lessons about how children should behave and interact with the world. Weird.

There were some differences as well. Beezus, the older sister of the exasperating Ramona (it felt like the word exasperating was used at least once per page, but it describes her so well) struggles throughout the book with the guilt of realizing that she doesn't always like her sister. While the specific conflicts between the two were pretty abstract to my boys due to the decade it was written in, the message came across loud and clear: it is OK to be angry with a sibling, because there is a deeper relationship there in the end. In the last chapter Beezus even comes right out and says that sisters don't have to love each other ALL the time, and my oldest son, who is the same age as Beezus the character and with two younger brother really related to her problems, interrupted my narration to add that it should say sisters and brothers. Yes, the message sank in very well.

I give this a higher rating than Mrs. PiggleWiggle because the characters are a little more full, and the book didn't slip into a formulaic pattern so much. The boys enjoyed it more, but I think I am going to try them out on something a little more modern and with a quicker tempo and see how that goes. Not that we won't return to classics like this, but it is time for something a little different I think.

Date Completed: 10/29/08
Rating: 3.4