The final installment of reviews for the Ramona series includes the two remaining books. The events of Ramona Forever (1984) take place several months after Ramona Quimby, Age 8 ends. The book begins with Beezus and Ramona begging their parents to let them stay home alone after school. They don’t like going to Ramona’s friend Howie’s house anymore, especially with Howie’s Uncle Hobart visiting. He likes to tease kids and who likes being teased? Ramona also despises the way she blamed for everything Howie’s annoying sister Willa Jean does… Anyone else think that Willa Jean sounds like another little girl who is now growing up?
Anyway, after a couple of false starts, one in which the girls quarrel over Beatrice’s newly sprouted acne and then shocking discovery of the family’s cat Picky-Picky dead in the basement, their parents determine that they have shown the maturity required to stay home alone. Success!
But there are still lots of challenges and changes in store for the girls, not the least of which include Ms. Quimby being pregnant with a third child AND the shocking announcement that Howie’s awful Uncle Hobart has proposed to the girls’ beloved Aunt Beatrice! What could someone as lovely as Aunt Beatrice see in that man?? Is it possible they don’t see him in the same way she does?
The family only has two weeks to plan a whirlwind wedding. In the midst of the happy chaos, Ramona realizes that she’s happy she’s growing up. This is a great book for children in the 8-9 year age range who are simply maturing or who might also be going through some significant changes in their lives.
The final volume in the Ramona saga, Ramona’s World, debuted in 1999, 15 years after Ramona Forever was published. Despite the passage of time, She’s every bit the same spunky girl we’ve grown to know and love. The spirited Ramona is now 9 and in the fourth grade when we revisit her. She has a best friend for the first time, a new student named Daisy Kidd. She’s a bit frustrated by her teacher Mrs. Meacham, because she expects her students to work very hard at their spelling. Spelling is a subject Ramona struggles with so it creates a bit of strife.
Mrs. Quimby has given birth to baby Roberta and is staying home again to care for her. Ramona tries very hard to be a good role model for her younger sister but she finds that babysitting isn’t quite what she thought it would be. Maybe she’s starting to experience some of the same feelings that her own older sister had about her.
Speaking of Beezus, she is now a high schooler who is starting to show interest in boys, particularly Daisy Kidd’s older brother, Jeremy. Between the new baby requiring so much attention from her parents and Beezus having new interests, Ramona begins to feel unsure about her place in the family. Will she manage to find her footing with so much changing around her?
When we leave Ramona, she has finally turned 10. Cleary leaves the reader with a character who is frozen in time on the precipice of the great changes that puberty brings. Though the Quimby sisters’ somewhat idyllic adolescence growing up on Klickitat Street may not perfectly mirror the reality of today’s children, the major themes of growing up are certainly strong enough to resonate with a new generation. The Ramona series is a classic slice of family life that will entertain your kids and maybe bring you back to a simpler time in your own childhood.