Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sorry for the no-update. I've had some things going on that have made me less than snarkish, but life is looking up, so hopefully I'll update in the next few days. For my loyal fans, don't stop believing. See you soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


All right, kids, here's the deal. I'm leaving tomorrow to go on vacation (SQUEE!!!!) so there won't be a review this weekend. Next week will be Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (I found it!) and it will be awesome, so don't forget to check back.

All you USAmericans have a great holiday weekend, and the rest of you have fun working on Monday. See you next week!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Witches, Part 2

So here's the good news: my darling husband has gone to bed, I have ants in my pants, I need a break from working on the book, and I'm updating this blog.
Here’s the bad news: my adorable best friend came over tonight to watch The Hills, and I’ve had too much wine. Therefore I must ask you, dear reader, to ignore spelling mistakes and grammar errors and just enjoy this update.

When we last left our hapless hero Everyboy, he had just witnessed a meeting of all the witches in England. It was grotesque and horrifying, and we were all squirming in our seats. Let’s rejoin him behind his screen in the conference room full of toeless witches. ***shudder***

The Grand High Witch Of All The World (TGHWOATW or TGHW) makes an announcement. She has given a sweet with Formula 86 Delayed Action Mousemaker (f86DAMM) to a young boy in the lobby and, for the first time, I wonder: What happened to the other 87 versions? Did it just add a tail to the affected child, causing him to eventually be a guest star on Nip/Tuck? Did the poor child just squeak forever, instead of being able to actually speak? These questions are never answered. Instead the insignificant fat child is brought into play. Apparently, his name is Bruno Jenkins, and the GHWOATW gave him an infected chocolate bar yesterday. Under the promise of more to come, he’s agreed to meet her this afternoon. Apparently he does not know about Stranger Danger. Bruno comes into the room, asks for his chocolate bars, and turns into a mouse. Yeah, he turns into a mouse in front of a roomful of witches. Urgh. Apparently it’s very painful, too, because there’s a lot of shrieking. Unfortunately for the witches (and for the reader too, but we’ll find this out later) Bruno runs away before they can pull out the mouse traps.
TGHWOATW is really excited after Bruno turns into a mouse, so she makes a speech at her podium before all the witches rise to leave the room. Unfortunately for Everyboy, this is the point where one of the witches in the back row smells… you got it, dog’s droppings. OHSHIT. 26 is to old to be a child, right? If it’s not, I’m never bathing again, which means my darling, sweet-smelling husband probably won’t like me very much. It’s cool, though. I mean, I don’t want to be a mouse. The witches quickly find Everyboy, and despite his efforts to escape, he’s brought up to the podium.
TGHWOATH forces F86DAMM down his throat, and there is a detailed description of how much it hurts to turn into a mouse. Mom, I know you read this blog. Why in the HELL did you let me read this book when I was six? It’s horrifying. As soon as Everyboy turns into a mouse, TGHWOATW calls for a mousetrap. Everyboy is not waiting around for that crap, so he runs away, and another flaw in TGHWOATW’s plan comes to light. Everyboy still thinks like a normal child. The witches aren’t stressed though, so the peace out to the Sunshine Terrace for drinks with the manager.
Everyboy finds Bruno and they scurry upstairs to Grandmama’s room. There’s an unnecessary description of Bruno obsessing over a sandwich and several bananas, but I’m choosing to skip that because I feel that Americans are too obsessed with food and weight issues.
Fortunately for Everyboy, he still has his regular voice, so he is able to call for his Grandmama. She opens the door and lets Everyboy and Bruno into her room, and is distressed for about five seconds about the fact that her grandson is now a mouse. HER GRANDSON IS NOW A MOUSE. Sorry, but I’d be pissed for a little longer than that. Everyboy explains the events of the previous chapters, and Grandmama is perversely excited that TGHWOATW is in their hotel. I’d pack my stuff and book it, but Everyboy and Grandmama come up with a scheme: Everyboy’s room is, conveniently, right above TGHWOATW’s room, and he’s going in. Grandmama lets him down in a roll of knitting, and he scurries through TGHWOATW’s balcony to her room. He can’t find the F86DAMM very quickly but, being a secret genius, he thinks to check between the mattress and boxspring. He finds not only the mouse maker, but a few toads that he’s pretty sure used to be kids. I have to run away and hide in the bathroom for awhile, but when I come back, TGHWOATW returns with the old witches who would not be able to make the formula on their on. Oh heavens, I am so sure this blog sucks right now. Remind me not to drunkblog, k? Anyway, after promises the poor kidfrogs that she’ll throw them from the balcony in a few minutes, TGHWOATW doles out the mousemaker to the old witches and sends them merrily on their way. Everyboy scurries out of the room along with the old lady witches and books it upstairs to Grandmama. He has managed to procure one bottle of F86DAMM.
Whoops, that was two chapters.
Anymousekids, Gradmama decides that it’s time to return Bruno to the bosom of his family. She heads down to the lounge where they were last seen and proceeds to try to explain to them that their son is now a mouse. Understandably, they freak and don’t believe her. Mr. Jenkins is kind of an asshole, and Grandmama and the two kidmice return to her room to plot.
While Bruno eats a lot, Grandmama and Everyboy make a plan to save the world. Grandmama will take her mice down to dinner and Everyboy will spike the witches’ food with F86DAMM. Then, all the witches in England will turn into mice. Word. Grandmama reminds Everyboy that he now has a tail, which he can use to swing around, and they head down to the dining room.
Once they get there Everyboy peaces out and heads to the kitchen, where nasty things happen. First, a waiter brings in a plate of food that someone complained about. The cook slaps another piece of meat onto it, then everyone in the kitchen spits on it. This is disgusting but true, and here is another Marve story of the style that I’m sure y’all constantly crave.

I used to work in this restaurant in my hometown, which was fine dining and a wine bar. It was a very classy establishment, but the owner was a jerk in the highest extreme. He also had, um, sphincter problems. I mean, we’re talking one time he pooped his pants at Lowe’s and tried to flush his underwear down the toilet problems. Seriously, nasty man. Anypoopypants, one day I brought in a steak that a woman complained was underdone. He recooked the thing, then stuck him hand down the back of his pants, and wiped it on the steak. I refused to take it out, so he sent out one of the cooks. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I never, EVER do anything that could possibly piss off anyone who handles my food, and that includes my darling husband and my wonderful mother. It’s just not worth it.

Anydisturbingstory, Everyboy overhears that the witches are all having the soup for their first course, and he darts around the kitchen to pour the F86DAMM into their soup. Sweet. Unfortunately, he gets caught up in his excitement and is caught. The cooks all start freaking out and trying to stomp on him, and he runs up one of the cook’s pants in an attempt to escape. And Richard Gere. He somehow manages to escape into a sack of potatoes, then runs to his Grandmama’s table.
He is just in time to see Bruno’s dad come striding up to give Grandmama hell. She pulls Bruno out of his purse, his dad freaks out, and the main issue is that they have a pet cat, which Bruno’s mother loves. Um, lady? This is your kid. Slightly more important than a cat. Mr. Jenkins threatens to sue Grandmama, who looks at him incredulously.
Then all the witches turn into mice. Yeah, that’s the whole chapter. It’s disturbing. Grandmama and Everyboy peace out and head back to Norway.
When they get back, Everyboy and Grandmama are very happy. She builds all kinds of mouse-runs so that Everyboy can turn on lights, cook food, open the refrigerator, etc. Grandmama is a secret mechanical genius, apparently. Eventually they get into a conversation about how long mice live. Apparently Everyboy doesn’t have long to go, but neither does Grandmama, so he’s cool with that. She kisses his nose a lot.
Anypervert, in the next chapter they discuss whether the other witches in the world will disappear once TGHWOATW is known to be dead. Grandmama has an inkling that they won’t. She says TGHWOATW is like the Queen Bee in a hive. There’s always someone waiting to take her place. Creepy. Everyboy and Grandmama make a plan. They’re going to go to TGHWOATW’s house and turn everybody in it into mice. Once that’s accomplished, they’ll send in cats to kill the mousewitches. Inside the house, they’re sure they’ll find the names and addresses of EVERY WITCH IN THE WORLD. They’ll then spend their time hunting these awful women down and turning them, one by one, into mice. I am so glad I have Grandmama and Everyboy on my side. Talk about pimp. Grandmama smashes a few vases and kisses Everyboymouse a few times, and we have

The End.

Oh heavens. I should not have written this blog tonight. Don’t judge me. LC made me do it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Witches, Part 1

Before we get started, I have discovered through an in-depth toothmark analysis and character profiling that the culprit behind the destruction of Ramona Quimby, Age 8, was Chicken (shown here during a brief moment of peace with themarve). Rest assured, he is being punished as we speak.

Now, on to The Witches. No, this is not a Bev. Cleary book, but it is one of the greatest childrens books of all time, and it's one that is often looked over. I figured we could all use a refresher course on what 'terrifying' really means. I mean, R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike were great and all, but Roald Dahl had me shaking in my shoes when I was a child with an overactive imagination.

So we start out with a prologue that tells us that witches are very real and, for the most part, they look just like ordinary women (not that this is anything against women - R.D. makes sure to point out that ghouls and barghests are always male). A witch's greatest pleasure is in squelching children, and they are very creative in how they do it.

The first chapter opens with our hapless hero, who remains nameless throughout the book. We'll call him everyboy. Everyboy is with his grandmama in Norway due to the fact that his parents have just died in a car accident, which is horrible. He is only seven years old. After a brief period of mourning, Everyboy and Grandmama get into a conversation about witches. Grandmama, who is an enormous woman with a missing thumb and a penchant for smoking cigars knows quite a bit about witches, being a retired witchophile, or witch hunter. She explains to Everyboy that witches like to make people disappear and describes five disappearances that she herself witnessed.
1. Ranghild Hansen: disappears while playing with sister on lawn
2. Solveg Christiansen: comes home from school eating an apple. The next day, is part of a large oil painting in foyer. Occassionally moves around painting, but never when anyone is looking. Disappears after about 50 years.
3. Birgit Svenson: turns into a chicken. Her mother makes delicious omelettes with her eggs, which I somehow think is wrong.
4. Harald: Turns into stone. Um, grandmama? That's not witches, that's Hunter's Syndrome, and it's very real and sad. Make that four kids you know who've been squelched.
5. Leif: On summer holiday with family. Dives into lake, comes up a porpoise. That just blew my mind a little bit.

At this point in the story, Grandmama offers Everyboy a hit on her cigar, which she has been enjoying 'as if it were a delicious asparagus.' Everyboy says he doesn't smoke because he's only seven, and Grandmama tells him that if you smoke cigars you'll never catch a cold. Remind me to use this logic on my husband next time I get caught sneaking cigarrettes. Oh, don't judge me. I only smoke when I drink way too much. Besides, I'm a hipster. I listen to Muse and the Julianna Theory. It comes with the territory.

Next chapter is on how to recognize a witch. This is very important, kids, so pay attention.

1. Witches always wear gloves, even when it's hot. This is because, instead of fingernails, they have claws like a cat. I am jealous of this. It would make opening mail and scratching my back much easier and more fulfilling.
2. Witches are bald. It seems like this would make it easy to spot them, but they are smart enough to wear high-quality wigs, unlike this person. Fortunately for the witch-savvy children of the world, these wigs make their heads itch like beejesus, so it is important to always be on the lookout for women wearing gloves who scratch their heads a lot.
3. Witches have ginormous nose holes, the better to smell you with, my dear. Witches can smell out a child standing on the other side of the street in the middle of the night. This brings us to one important step you can take to avoid getting squelched: Don't Take Baths. The cleaner you are, the easier it is for a witch to smell you. To a witch, children smell like dog poo, and the cleaner they are the stronger the smell. I actually tried to use this argument on my mom, but it did not work.
4. They have creepy eyeballs.
5. They don't have any toes. Gross.
6. Their spit is blue. They use it for ink to write letters. OMGWTFBBQ??!! That just really disgusts me. I hope nobody ever sends me a spit letter.

Grandmama also admits that she once ran into a witch as a child. That's how she lost her thumb, but she doesn' t want to talk about it.

The next day, a solicitor comes and tells Grandmama that they've got to go back to England - Everyboy's parents left in their will that they wanted him to be raised there. If I was Grandmama I would be chapissed because she took in their son, holy hell, now she has to leave her home and move across the ocean? No thank you. But Grandmama is a better person than I am so they head on back to the mother country. Before they leave they have a conversation about the differences in English witches and Norweigan witches, and we learn that there are witches in every country, all of whom are overseen by the Grand High Witch Of All The World, whom no one has ever seen. When Everyboy asks why he should believe in her if no one has ever seen her, Grandmama replies that no one has ever seen the devil, but we know he exists. Um, Grandmama? I beg to differ (link NSFL). One lovely English morning while Everyboy is building a treehouse a woman in a hat and gloves approaches and tries to coax him down a tree by showing him a snake and telling him that he can have it if he wants it. Everyboy, being mildly intelligent, books it up to the top of the tree to get away from the woman. That is his first encounter with a witch, and he survives reasonably unscathed.

Grandmama gets pneumonia, which sucks, and so they go to the southern coast of England for the summer holidays. Everyboy thinks it looks pretty dull when they pull up to the hotel and really? There's a beach right out front. That's all I needed to stay entertained for HOURS when I was a kid. In a great example of forshadowing, Everyboy has two white mice named William and Mary and his dream is to run a world-famous mouse circus. Um, good luck with that Everyboy. Unfortch, he can't work on training his ivy league college - I mean, rodents - because the manager of the hotel has threatened to drown them if they are caught out of the cage and the maid keeps bursting into Everyboy's room at random times, hoping to catch him letting the mice out. Um, that seems wildly inappropriate. Maybe we should call Chris Hanson in on this woman. Anyway, Everyboy needs a place to train his mice, so he finds a nice deserted ballroom that says it is reserved for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Figuring that they've already had their meeting or, as he is a child, will love him, Everyboy heads on in, sits down behind a screen in the back of the room, and proceeds to teach him mice how to walk a tightrope. Awesome. Unfortch, The RSPCC heads in with the manager of the hotel and Everyboy is trapped.

As soon as the RSPCC gets rid of the manager, they chain and bolt the doors, which is the first sign that something may be off. Then Everyboy notices (he's watching through a crack in the screen) that THEY'RE ALL WEARING GLOVES AND HATS!!!!! ooooooooooh and THEY ALL ARE SCRATCHING THEIR HEADS LIKE THEY HAVE LICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMGOMGOMG! HE'S LOCKED IN A ROOM FULL OF WITCHES!!!!!!!!! This part horrified me when I was a kid. I mean, we're talking nightmares, people. As Everyboy is taking all this in (he even faints a little bit) a Russian midget comes up on stage and tells the ladies that they may rrrremooof their hats, wigs, gloves, and shoes. OMG, the illistration for their toesless feet has me nauseous. Everyboy quickly starts counting the days since he's had a bath. Luckily, and disgustingly, he hasn't had one since before he came to the hotel. Um, awesome? Meanwhile, the Russian midget is berating her audience of witches because, while she was having breakfast that morning, she had to watch children playing on the beach. She is quit disappointed, as she had hoped that, since their last meeting, they would have squelched every child in England. One witch murmurs that she doesn't think that's possible, and the Russian midget, who I think we've all guessed by now is the Grand High Witch Of All The World says a few rhyming couplets and then incinerates the poor outspoken witch with her eyes. Oh Dear Sweet Jesus. Remind me not to let my kids read this book until they are, like, 50. Oh, yeah, and the Russian midget takes off her face (yeah, it was a mask) and her face underneath is all rotten and wrinkly and nasty. Ugh.

Anyway, after KILLING A HUMAN BEING WITH HER EYES! the Grand High Witch goes cheerily back to business. She has invented Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse-Maker, and she wants all the witches to open sweet shops and place a drop of F86DAMM in each sweet. Then they will give the sweets away to children. The F86DAMM has an alarm clock in it which is set to 9 a.m., so at 9 the next morning, while they're in school, all the kids will turn into mice. Then, the teachers will get mousetraps and kill them all. Voila: No more children in England. Um, Grand High Witch Of All The World? I'm seeing a few flaws in the plan.

1. What about diabetic children, or children who don't eat sweets?
2. If all the children turn into mice in front of the childrens' teachers, don't you think the teachers will guess something is going on and not kill them with mousetraps?
3. What if a grown-up eats the sweets? Does he or she turn into a mouse, or is the dosage too small for a full-sized person. Maybe they will just grow a tail?
4. I'm no expert on potion-making, but I would think that an alarm clock would, at the very least, have a crunchy texture and would, therefore, alert whoever ate the sweets to the fact that there was a little something extra in there.

Anyway, unpreturbed by my questions, the GHWOATW (sorry, it's just that all this crap takes too long to type out, and I have work to do) and the lesserwitches do a disturbing little dance-and-chant thing, and the GHWOATW gives the lesserwitches the recipe for mouse-maker. In an uncharcteristic display of kindness, she explains that she's made up a few extra bottles for the witches who are too old to gather some of the more exotic ingredients. These bottles are in her room, and the older lesserwitches are invited to come get them later. Um, can we say plot device? Whatever, I don't care, this book is awesome.

All right, ladies and germs, that's it for part 1. Yeah, that was only half of the book. I told you it was a long one. Check back later in the week for Part 2! See you soon!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Something horrible has happened

Now, before I tell you this, please know that though I am mean as hell, this is not some cruel joke that I’ve invented to upset you, loyal blogreaders, and make you cry and cause you to rend your garments. This is the truth.

One of my dogs, either Chicken or Reagan, has eaten my last Ramona book.

Here’s how it happened.

This morning I left to go for a run, and since I was going for distance and it was hot, I left the dogs at home. This always makes them mad, but they seldom stoop to destruction of property. This time, I guess, it was just too much for them, because when I came home, sweaty and happy, I was greeted with the tattered remains of Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

I am so sorry to have to tell y’all that this book took me months to find in my used bookstore. It may be awhile before I can find another copy. So here's the deal:

I'm going to review The Witches and The Mouse and the Motorcyle over the next few weeks. Hopefully the first half of The Witches will be up by tomorrow (it's a long book) and the second half will be up this weekend.

Please forgive me. I feel that I've failed you. Trust that the culprit will be found and severely punished. That's right folks, I'm going to hire an idiot to make them do the YMCA.

Meet me back here tomorrow, K?

Saturday, August 16, 2008


It's been a long week, so my update will be late. Sorry 'bout that. The good news is, I got to see my darling family, meet my mom's adorable new kitten, and get a lot of work done on my book. By the way, I got my first (and second) rejection letter! Whoohoo! Expect a new update in the next few days. It's the last Ramona book but don't worry, good ol' Bev has left us a lot of great stories, so this blog won't be ending anytime soon.

Try not to hold your breath until the new blog comes out, I promise it'll be soon

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ramona and Her Mother

Lawsie mercy, this book is going to make a lot of people happy. It has soooo many good memories.

I went into this one with my hackles raised because, as we all know by now, I don't like Ramona's mom. She is a Beezus-lover and she's boring, both of which earn her a straight ticket to damnation in my book. It actually wasn't so bad, but Mrs. Quimby still is really lame.

Anyway, down to business. We opend on New Year's Day, which happens to be the day my adorable husband decided to bless this world with his presence 28 years ago. The Quimbys are all a-tizzy because they're having a New Year's brunch to celebrate Mr. Quimby's new job at the market. Ramona is a little stressed because Willa Jean is coming, so she hides all her toys and then decides that, to keep W.J. busy, she'll give her a box of Kleenex as a present. Awesome? Guests start to arrive and W.J. has an awesome new bear named Woger, after the milkman. Ooh, Mrs. Kemp, have you been spending some time in the bushes? Ramona wants to hold the bear, but since she's seven and a half, she thinks she's too old, so she starts looking for excuses to hold the bear without looking like she's holding the bear which seems mildly neurotic. Willa Jean and Ramona have to eat at the kids' table, which is totes a good thing. We used to BEG for a kids' table because when you sit at the grownups' table you have to behave, but my grandmother would never let us have one. Ramona does not see the benefit, though, and she is unhappy. Willa Jean starts bothering people so Ramona gives her her present. W.J. is stoked, but she doesn't want to let Ramona hold Woger so she makes one of the grown-ups hold him, then proceeds to pull out every tissue in the box of tissues and throw it all over the house, which is something Ramona's always wanted to do. Willa Jean proceeds to be a huge brat and ruin the party, and the Kemps proceed to not do jack about it because they are deadbeat parents who let their mean mother take care of their children. When all the guests are leaving - in a hurry, to get away from bratface Willa Jean - someone makes a remark to Mrs. Quimby about Beezus being 'her girl' (translation: lame) and Mrs. Quimby says she could never get along without Beezus. Ramona is jealous.

One day Ramona's mom is sewing and we get some foreshadowing as Beezus AW's that she's going to go wash her hair. You know, because they whole family needs to know that. Mrs. Quimby comments that she's only washed it two days ago and, ew? I wash my hair every day. I live in a city with pollution. I dont want to sleep with pollution-hair on my face every night. Anywhoo, Ramona decides she wants to sew, too, so she pulls out her stuffed elephant who is cleverly named Elly Funt. She decides to make pants. Mrs. Quimby tries to point out that this might be difficult but our girl will not be deterred, so instead of helping Ramona Mrs. Quimby goes back to her sewing and lets her youngest daughter set herself up for heartbreak. Of course the pants don't fit and Ramona gets sad. When she overreacts because of about ten million little worries she has on her mind her mom, once again showing her awesomeness, snaps at her to calm down. Ramona escapes to the bathroom to cry and spots - and economy size tube of toothpaste. SWEET! She's always wanted to squeeze out an entire tube of toothpaste, so she does, and she really goes to town, making toothpaste flowers and squiggles and whatnot. It's probably better than most modern art. (Disclaimer: I actually like and respect Andres Serrano and his work. This one was just a little over the top for me. Oh, and don't be offended. It's educational.) Beezus comes in and tattles, of course, and Ramona has to scoop all the toothpaste into a jar that she'll use until it's all gone. Gross.

In February Ramona has a bad day. Her parents start bitchfacing at her as soon as she coems into the kitchen, her teacher comments on her bad spelling in school, and Willa Jean is a brat at the Kemps' house that afternoon. Ramona and Howie escape to the basement where they build a boat. They use saws and hammers and stuff, which makes me cringe, but neither of them manages to cut off a finger or a toe. Thank God. They want to see if the boat will float so they fill up the laundry tub (?? This book was published in 1984. I was only three then, so I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure people had washing machines in the 80's.) The boat floats, but this is not enough excitement, so Ramona, spying a bottle of bluing (geez, this blog involves alot of things I've never heard of today) and climbs up to get it off a shelf. Unfortunately, she slips and spills bluing all over Howie and herself. Howie has blue hair and a blue face, Ramona has blue clothes and blue feet, and of course Howie's grandma is furious and blames Ramona. You know, because Ramona is seven and perfectly capable of making logical choices at all times without any direction from the adult her parents are paying to babysit her. They get back upstairs and Willa Jean has cut off Woger's leg because she wanted to see if there were any bones. Gah. Ramona's bad day continues when her parents are late to pick her up, the Kemps eat dinner in front of her without offering her any, and she's hungry. When her family finally shows, she thinks her day is definitely going to get better - there's crockpot stew waiting at home and she manages to not tell anyone about her blue feet right away. Sadly, when they get home, no one plugged in the crockpot, there's no food in the fridge, they have to make pancakes, and Mr. and Mrs. Quimby get into a sniping contest about whose grandmother was better. Yeah, really, that's what they fight about. Lame. It escalates to Mrs. Quimby swatting Mr. Quimby on the hiney with a pancake flipper and going to read the paper in the living room while he cooks. Doesn't sound too bad, but the girls are freaked out and Ramona sleeps in Beezus' bed that night. The next morning their parents are back to normal, probably having 'made up' real good the night before, and this makes the girls mad because they spent a sleepless night worrying about whether or not their parents were going to get a divorce. Aw. Ramona informs them that they are no longer allowed to fight, and they promise to try to comply.

That was actually two chapters, and it's one hell of a long paragraph. So long, in fact, that while you were reading it I went to Chipotle and got a vegetarian fajita burrito with extra guacamole. And then I died of ecstasy. And then I came back to life, and now we can continue this blog.

One Saturday morning Mrs. Quimby is cutting Ramona's hair and she's twitching her nose to get hair off of it. Her mom calls her a little rabit, and Ramona's imagination is off and running. She spends most of the rest of the book twitching her nose when she's happy and pretending to be a bunny, which is cute. Beezus bitchfaces about at-home haircuts which leads to what is probably the only time EVAR in one of these novels that I feel sorry for Mrs. Quimby. Beezus goes off on a rant about how she's tired of being sensible all the time and Mrs. Quimby informs bitchface Beezus that she, too is tired of being sensible all the time and that sometimes she wishes she could just sit on a cushion in the sunshine and blow the fluff off dandelions. Were you a hippy, Mrs. Quimby? Anyway, apparently life is hard when you are a working mother of two, struggling to make ends meet with basically no help from your husband. Aw, Mrs. Quimby, I feel your pain on at least one of those things. Anyway, the hair standoff continues for a few days until Beezus finally announces that she's saved up her allowance so that she can get her hair cut at the beauty school. Instead of asking if she's saved up enough money for gas to get there, too, which is what my sister-in-law would do, Mrs. Quimby agrees to drive her. This leads to one of my favorite memories in a Ramona book, and an exchange that made me uncomfortable with giving directions for the rest of my life:

Mrs. Quimby: 'Do I turn left'
Beezus: 'Right'
Mrs. Quimby turns right when Beezus meant 'that's right, you turn left.' Hilarity and carsickness ensue.

They get to the trade school and Beezus goes back to the little shop of horrors while Ramona and her mom wait. One of the students, who I'm guessing is bored, offers to cut Ramona's hair. Ramona gets an awesome pixie cut, which is something I've always wished I could pull off. Beezus, however, gets an awful cut, complete with hairspray and frosting, and is distraught over her old-lady hair and her wasted allowances. Wow. That really does suck, Beezus. Sorry. Fortunately when she gets home and washes her hair she looks normal again, which is lucky. Seriously. I think if Beezus had to be more lame than she is naturally, she would just explode into a big, squishy pile of lameness and never be heard from again.

One lovely evening, Ramona is hopping down the hall, pretending to be a bunny, when her mother notices that her pj's are too small. She gives Ramona a new pair, and by 'new pair' I mean NEW, BABIES, not handed down from Beezus or anything! Ramona is super stoked. The next morning she doesn't want to take them off to get dressed for school. Here is her train of logic that leads to the following decision:

1. When she was in Kindergarden, her class took a field trip to the fire department.
2. She got a plastic fire hat, which she liked a lot.
3. Firemen sleep in their underwear so that they can jump right into their clothes and save lives faster
4. Ramona doesn't sleep in her underwear, she sleeps in her pajamas.

That's right, kids, Ramona WEARS HER PAJAMAS UNDER HER CLOTHES TO GO TO SCHOOL. She pretends she's a fireman to rationalize it. This kid is awesome. I hereby bestow upon Ramona G. Quimby one win button.

For some reason, Ramona is hot in her many layers of clothing. Her teacher sends her to the principles office to get her temperature taken because she looks flushed, and Ramona uses the opportunity to fan herself out a little bit and fantasize about really being sick so she can go home and chillax. No temp, so she gets sent back to class. At recess, her teacher keeps her back and asks if there's anything Ramona would like to tell her. Ramona is embarrassed, but her teacher eventually coaxes the truth out of her and, to her credit, does not laugh and promises to keep the secret. She gives Ramona a paper bag and tells her to go take her pj's off and hide them in the bag. This creates some stress for Ramona because she is not wearing underwear. Um, I don't understand this. I always wear underwear, even with my pajamas. ESPECIALLY with my pajamas. You never know when there's going to be a fire, an earthquake, a car accident, or a sick baby that needs to go to the hospital. Underwear are very important in my life. Now, I'd take all my husbands' and burn them if I could, but that's another story and it's entirely inappropriate for a YA blog.

Ramona gets home and doesn't realize that she left her bag of pajamas at school until time to go to bed. She quickly gets into some old pj's and pulls the covers up tight around her neck so that no one will notice. The next morning she dresses in her closet and starts thinking that she might be able to get away with her deception for the weekend. After breakfast her father, in a fit of actually doing something for once, decides the house needs cleaning and assigns everyone chores. Beezus is vaccuuming and she chases Ramona behind the couch, where Ramona remains because she doesn't want to clean her room. Word. I don't want to clean my room either. The phone rings and Ramona overhears her mother having a conversation with her teacher. Furious that her ally has spilled her secret, Ramona has a tantrum, spitting out the whole story. It turns out that her teacher called about something else but, with her family laughing at her, Ramona feels no other recourse than to run away. She goes to her room to pack and is very hurt when her mom comes in with a suitcase to help her out. Taking this as a sign that her mother truly doesn't love her, Ramona watches miserably as her mom packs her skates, her doll, two bananas, her baby teeth, and various other things. When she goes, at last, to pick up her suitcase, she can't lift it. Realizing that her mom made it too heavy on purpose, and, giving Ramona a hug, she says the words Ramona has been waiting to hear this whole book: 'I couldn't get along without my Ramona." Aw. I choked up a little bit.

Oh, and by the way, Ramona's teacher called because she had noticed Ramona twitching her nose alot and was wondering if something was making her nervous. Mrs. Quimby admits that she and Mr. Quimby had noticed it too, Ramona fesses up to the whole rabbbit thing, and we have

The end.

Best. Ramona. Book. Ever. Especially the part about the pancake flipper.

Monday, July 28, 2008

By Special Request

I should be working on my query letters and revisions, but that's not as much fun as writing the book was so, thanks to my darling friend Lin, who reads this blog but refuses to comment, here is my list of ways to hide the nerdiness. Hopefully you will all find this helpful.

Please comment, Lin. Please.

Step 1. and this is the most important one - get some GBF's (Gay Best Friends). These unfailing barometers of coolness are the best tool in hiding your inner nerd. The nerdier you are, the meaner they need to be though, or you might fail in your venture. You need someone who will not hesitate to tell you if you step over any lines. They are also handy when getting dressed and buying shoes (I love you B.)

Step 2. Do not, and I repeat, do not, ever mention in polite company the fact that you:
  • read the Twilight books
  • read the Harry Potter books
  • listen to podcasts on these subjects
  • listen to podcasts
  • have a great affinity for opera and classical music
  • used to want to be a backup dancer for Michael Jackson
  • are writing/have written a book (until you are published and successful)
  • Think that Nip/Tuck is the best show ever
  • are going to see Journey in concert this weekend
  • think that youtube is God's greatest creation, besides red wine
  • write a YA blog

Crap, I have totally screwed up this step. Oh well.

Step 3: Do not drink too much in public due to the fact that it loosens your tongue and you may, like me, screw up step 2

Step 4: Always erase your Internet history. You never know when someone will borrow your computer to check their facebook page and find out that you've been frequenting

Step 5: Always wear high heels. Unless you're a dude. Or you're working out, because that's just tacky.

Step 6: Stop quoting lines from A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre at your husband when you feel like you need a little romance in your life.

Rinse, and repeat steps 1-6. Feel free to print them out and tape them to your refridgerator next to your signed photo of the Jackson 5. When you get the hang of it let me know, and I'll give you some more homework. Good luck!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ramona's World

Um, this book is undoubtedly the most awesome Ramona book because it was published during the grunge phase, which was undoubtedly the best years of my life. No, Kurt Cobain is not mentioned, but Beezus does have a totally awesome outfit. It’s a little strange to read this one so soon after Beezus and Ramona, though because it was published almost 40 years later.

We start with Ramona chillin’ with her new sister Roberta, and are the Quimbys Hispanic? I mean, their daughter’s names are Roberta, Ramona, and Beatrice. These are all names of people related to my gorgeous husband, and he es de Mexico. Anyway, as usual, Ramona is superpsyched about school starting. She is nine and will be starting the fourth grade. I think this is the last Ramona book. I’ll have to check. Ramona gets to the bus stop first on the first day of school (that’s an awkward sentence, too many firsts. I’ll have to work on that). Ramona has a conversation with the neighborhood crazy lady, then Howie arrives, already eating his lunch so that he won’t have to carry it. Howie, that is the height of laziness. The crazy lady yells at him not to drop papers and orange peels on her lawn and to keep off the grass. Howie, used to her antics, is unperturbed. Crazy people are awesome. There are a few of the in my book WHICH I JUST FINISHED! Sorry, I’ll get off that in a couple of weeks. It’s just exciting right now. The usual cast of characters is introduced; along with Howie there is Danny (Yard Ape) and some other kids from her class. The girls are all comparing the calluses they got from playing in the park that summer and Ramona’s are the biggest. Awesome? Stupid Susan of the blonde curls is there and we are treated to a flashback of why she and Ramona do not like each other. There’s a new girl whom Ramona introduces herself to. Her name is Daisy. Ramona is greeted on her way to class by her old teachers, who are undoubtedly cursing the bland year they have ahead of them now that they are deprived of Ramona’s awesomeness. Ramona’s new teacher is named Mrs. Meecham, and she doesn’t seem to have much of a personality beyond having a serious hard-on for spelling and writing in cursive, both of which are things I don’t like. Ramona is cool with the cursive thing, but she thinks learning to spell is a waste of time, since most of the time people can figure out what you’re trying to say even if you spell a word or two wrong. Word, Ramona. At lunchtime Daisy sits next to Ramona and it’s clear that they are going to be good friends. All in all it’s a good first day. Oh, and Mrs. Quimby is reading Moby Dick for her book club and when Ramona asks what it’s about she says, “It’s about a whale that bites off a man’s leg,” which makes me laugh a little. You’re stupid, Mrs. Quimby.

Ramona is superstoked about school but her enthusiasm quickly wanes when it becomes clear that the only thing the kids are going to learn this year is how to spell. Seriously, folks. There is no math, no reading, no social studies. There is only spelling in this book. Mrs. Quimby tells Ramona not to use the word ‘stuff’ so often. Conflict is building, folks, and we’re only on Chapter 2. Beezus is babysitting a lot, and she keeps speaking French, which is annoying, mainly because I know what it’s like to have to ask for a translation every few minutes, and it sucks. Speak American, Beezus. This chapter was a little pathetic. The next one is awesome, though.

Daisy invites Ramona over to her house. Ramona is stoked because all of her friends in her neighborhood are boys and because she gets to ride the bus to Daisy’s house, which will be a new experience. Daisy has a big house and a dog named Mutley and a cat named Clawed. Daisy has just moved to town, so her mother is unpacking boxes when they arrive. Daisy’s brother, Jeremy, whom she calls Germy, is awesome and funny and in Beezus’s class at school. Jeremy calls Daisy Fence Face because she wears braces. Sorry, Germy, you fail. Germy is a much better nickname. Ramona and Daisy watch Big Hospital on TV (pretty much General Hospital, from what I gather, which is funny because I wasn’t really into soap operas when I was nine, but Ramona seems like she’d be pretty accelerated in her TV watching skills. After Big Hospital is over they vacuum Daisy’s cat. They vacuum Daisy’s cat. They vacuum Daisy’s cat. Sorry, that was just too good of a sentence to only type it once.

Daisy and Ramona start spending pretty much every afternoon at each other’s houses. One day, however, Daisy has to get the bands tightened on her braces so Ramona is chillin’ out max and relaxin’ all cool and all at the house with her mom and Roberta. Beezus bursts in with an actual personality for once. Some girl in her class is having a dance party – WITH BOYS! Sa-weet! Can anyone say, ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven?’ Beezus is all fired up but nervous because she doesn’t know how to dance and she needs new clothes. Mr. Quimby can teach her, so there’s one problem solved, and she heads off to the mall. She returns later with a head scarf on like an old lady. We find out why a moment later when she shows Ramona that SHE WENT AND GOT HER EARS PIERCED! WITHOUT PERMISSION! Jesus, Beezus, when did you get ball implants? She ends up not really getting in trouble, which isn’t very fair, but Ramona is glad because it means when she gets older she can get her ears pierced, too. Word.

Here comes the most awesome chapter of a Ramona book ever. Ramona and Daisy are at her house not vacuuming the cat and Germy won’t let them have the TV because he’s busy watching sports, so they head up to Daisy’s room to play dress up. I loved dress up when I was a kid. I would have been in heaven if I was friends with Daisy because she has tons of dress up clothes. She and Ramona start putting together some awesome outfits, finally ending up as a princess and a witch. Daisy The Witch says she’s going to put Ramona the Princess in a dungeon, which doesn’t worry Ramona because she doesn’t see a dungeon anywhere around. Daisy has a few tricks up her sleeve though and opens a crawl space door in her closet. Ooh, Daisy you’ve been holding out. My friend and I used to go in her crawl space and smoke cigarettes and think nobody could find us. Anywho, Ramona is not very excited by this idea, so there is a struggle. They fight. Paris falls. Please don’t try to understand that. It was a dare. However, you should enjoy the musical stylings of the Knopler brothers whenever you can. Mark’s voice makes my hiney tingle. Anyway, actually it’s Ramona who falls – right though the insulation in the crawl space and the ceiling of the living room below! She manages to catch herself before she falls all the way through but is in a total panic because she’s wearing a dress and her underwear might be showing. Um, Ramona, you just fell through a ceiling. I think you have bigger problems than a little panty flash. Germy has to come up and pull her out and she’s pretty cut up, but the upside is that she has a very dramatic story to tell at dinner with her family that night.

Beezus’s rocking dance party is finally here and this is my favorite part of the book. She comes downstairs wearing a long skirt, a pretty blouse, small hoop earrings, and HER HIKING SHOES! OMG! I love it. Beezus, you’re awesome in this book, but only in this book, so don’t go getting a big head. I totally used to wear long skirts with my green Doc Martins. Ooh, I rocked the grunge phase. Can we go back to it now, please? Things are uneventful until Beezus gets back from the party. Ramona has been very worried that her sister will be disappointed, so she comes out of bed to hear all about it. Beezus is wearing makeup. Apparently the whole ‘dance’ part of the party didn’t happen – the boys wouldn’t even come into the house, so the girls gave each other makeovers and took food out to the boys. Beezus had a great time busting out of her jello mold and she quickly goes back to being lame.

One day at school Yard Ape drops a note on Ramona’s desk but it’s confiscated before Ramona can read it. That’s OK, Ramona, I can tell you what it says:

I like you. Do you like me? Check one;
Maybe so.

Ramona still hates spelling. Beezus tells her to grow up and Ramona says ‘I am a potential grownup” which is funny. Just hitting the highlights here, folks. One day Ramona and Daisy are reading the paper and start reading the ads aloud in funny voices. They come across one which says: You J.K. Barker people really know your stuff. I shoulda come here last year, and I’m gonna come here next year. Ramona and Daisy decide that you shouldn’t put words like ‘shoulda’ and ‘gonna’ in ads and, being smarter than your average fourth grader, guess that someone at the J.K. Barker agency wrote the ad, so they write a letter:

Dear Tax People,
There are no such words as gonna and shoulda which you put in your ad. You set a bad example for children who are learning to spell. We think you made up the letter yourself. There are better words than stuff.

Awesome. A week later, Ramona gets a letter from the J.K. Barker firm in the mail. This leads to what may be the funniest exchange ever in a Ramona book:

“’Ramona, are you having problems with your income tax?’ Mrs. Quimby asked, behaving as if she were serious even though she was joking.
‘Oh, Mother. You know my allowance isn’t that big.’” HAH! I think this may be my favorite Ramona book ever.

Ramona and Daisy were right, someone at the agency wrote the ad. He’s totally busted. Ramona and Daisy take the letter to school the next day to show to Mrs. Meecham, who is duly impressed.

Roberta is growing up and starting to have her own personality. One day Ramona is feeding her and Roberta is not really feeling what Ramona is throwing down – strained peas. Word Roberta. I wouldn’t eat that either. She ends up spitting peas all over Ramona and the throwing food all over the floor. Ramona is distressed. The next day is picture day, and Ramona is no longer distressed. She dresses up and looks super-cute. The photographer keeps telling the kids to say ‘cheese’ until Yard Ape asks if he ever gets tired of saying that. Come to think of it, he does, so the next time, Ramona’s turn, he says ‘Say peas.’ Ramona immediately thinks of Roberta spitting peas all over her and scowls just in time for the shutter click. The photographer is a jerk and won’t do a retake. Oh, Ramona. That really sucks.

Ramona wants to cat sit for Daisy’s cat, Clawed, one weekend when they are out of town. Her parents actually agree, and Clawed comes in with a large amount of paraphernalia including a kitty condo, cat food, a litter box and litter, and some other essentials. Beezus is all shy around Germy. Aw. Clawed is kind of a pain in the neck. He won’t stay in the basement, he sleeps on the couch, he doesn’t like his water bowl so he drinks out of the toilet, and all in all is not a very good houseguest. One afternoon Mrs. Quimby asks Ramona to watch Roberta while she drives to pick Beezus up from a friend’s house. Ramona is stoked, because this means she’s a grownup. I would have asked if I’d get paid for it, but I was a bratty kid. Roberta eats a magazine and Clawed coughs up a hairball. The Roberta gets her head stuck in Clawed’s kitty condo. It’s pretty much a total disaster but Ramona geniuses her way out of it and all is well.

The school pictures arrive and Ramona is distraught about hers. She doesn’t want to show them to her family, but of course Beezus AW’s hers for awhile so she ends up getting busted. The Quimby’s think they’re funny and Ramona is insulted. Then it’s Valentine’s Day. Woot! I love V-day. My darling husband always gets me a caramel apple from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and a bottle of wine. I close myself in the bathroom with them and don’t come out until they’re both gone. Very romantic. In Ramona’s class, store-bought Valentines are for regular people and homemade valentines are for awesome people. Ramona makes Daisy’s, Janet’s and Howie’s. Sadly, she runs out of store bought valentines before she gets to Yard Ape’s. Not wanting him to get the wrong idea, she gives him her scowling school picture instead. Girl, you started playing games early. When she gets to school, she finds that Yard Ape made her a Valentine. It says: If you are eating peas, think of me before you sneeze. Signed, Yard Ape, President. Apparently he is the president of awesome because that it the. best. valentine. Ever.

The last chapter is Ramona’s birthday. She wants a party in the park and a bowl of whipped cream instead of a cake. Her mom talks her down to a cake with whipped cream frosting, which sounds weird, but whatever. Ramona invites all her friends and Susan, because her mom makes her. Stupid mom. The boys are playing at the park and when the girls see them they squeal and hide under the table cloth. Hah. Ramona blows out her candles and her mom serves the cake, but Susan refuses hers, saying she brought an apple instead. Um, Susan? You’re stupid. When some body offers you cake, you eat it. That’s one of the first and most important lessons I ever learned. Susan explains that there might be spit on the cake from Ramona blowing out the candles which causes a ruckus and a conversation about germs. Apparently Susan’s mom read a book on being healthy and it said that you shouldn’t eat cake when someone has blown candles out on it. Sounds like a pretty lame book. The girls end up being kind of mean to Susan, flaunting their cake-eating – ness and Susan bursts into tears. Everyone likes her more than Ramona, Susan only got store-bought Valentines, and her mother expects her to be perfect every single minute. Oh, Susan. That sucks. Susan ends up eating a little piece of cake and Ramona decides that maybe Susan isn’t that bad after all. Yard Ape tells Ramona happy tenth birthday and Ramona says ‘Zeroteenth.’ She is a teenager now, which means this probably is the last Ramona book, and we have

The End.

Don’t worry though, because I just found two more older books. We’ll still have our weekly Ramona recap.

Oh, and this was a very musical blog today, so I’d like to direct your attention here where, if you close your eyes and ignore your prejudices, you will find something very beautiful.

Um, I finished my book

Just wanted to AW about that a little bit. Now all I have to do is revise it, tease it and sell it for a million dollars. Whoohoo!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ramona the Brave

Fortunately for all of us, my local used bookstore got two more Ramona books in, so we don’t have to resort to The Mouse and the Motorcycle just yet. Ramona the Brave was one that I really loved growing up, but this time around it didn’t seem like much awesomeness happend. Who cares, though, becaise it’s the book that spawned the name for this humble blog!

We open with Beezus and Ramona walking home from the park. Beezus is furious, and Ramona is thrilled because for once she got to stand up for her big sister. When they arrive home, Ramona hurries into the house to tell her mother what happened. Apparently while they were at the park, some big boys started calling Beezus ‘Jesus Beezus’ and brave and virtuous Ramona hopped off of her swing and preached them a sermon about not taking the Lord’s name in vain. She then capped it off by sticking her thumbs in her ear, sticking out her tongue, and wiggling her fingers. Word, Ramona. You could give Oral Roberts a run for his money. Anyway, Beezus is angry, not at the big boys as Ramona had assumed, but at Ramona for embarrassing her. Ramona feels awful because she meant to help Beezus, not hurt her, and they come up with a plan to call Beezus ‘Beatrice’ in public. All’s well that ends well.

Next chapter, we have Mrs. Quimby going on mysterious errands, dressing better, and getting a haircut. Somebody’s having an affair! Sweet, Mrs. Quimby, I hope he's rich and good looking. Beezus and Ramona are left home alone, and while Beezus goes to her room to read, Ramona sits at the kitchen table to draw a picture of the cat on the can of cat food that Picky-picky eats. She’s working in different mediums – both crayon and pencil, which I think is pretty forward thinking, until she realizes that her red crayon is missing. She goes into her room to look for it, and it’s broken on her bed. Beezus, the unfeeling jezebel, sat on it and broke it, and feels no guilt. She and Ramona get into it, and Beezus tells Ramona to grow up. Ramona shouts ‘Can’t you see I’m trying!’ and I feel sorry for her. Ramona lies down on her bed to look at her book of African animals, and scares herself a few times with a picture of a gorilla. Beezus gets mad because Ramona keeps looking at the gorilla and then slamming the book shut. Shut up, Beezus. They start fighting again, and Beezus says, and I kid you not, ‘Shut up, Varlet. Yonder car approacheth. Our noble mother cometh.’ At this, I laugh so hard I almost *but not quite* pee my pants. Mrs. Quimby comes in as they’re yelling and says that she understands why they fight, because sharing a small room is too hard for the girls. She informs them that they are going to add a small bedroom on to the back of the house. The girls are thrilled, especially Ramona, because when they ask who gets the new bedroom, Mrs. Quimby says they’ll trade off every six months (ugh. Too much work.) and that Ramona will get it first, since Beezus gets everything else first. Whoot! This small victory, plus the idea of having a hole in the back of the house, sends Ramona straight to cloud nine. Whatever floats your boat, Ramona. Oh, and Mrs. Quimby got a job, so now she’s liberated. Word.

Ramona and Howie are playing brick factory, which is a game that involves getting old bricks and pounding them with rocks until they crumble into smithereens. Awesome? Suddenly, the men who are going to build the room come and Howie and Ramona spend the afternoon pestering them and generally having a grand old time. When the men leave for the day, Ramona goes to where they’ve poured the concrete foundation and draws her special Q with ears and whiskers in the wet concrete so the room will always be hers. Progress continues, and soon it’s time for the highly anticipated hole in the side of the house. That night, Beezus and Ramona have fun scaring each other and talking about all of the things that might sneak in through the hole – a ghost or a gorilla without bones, for example.

Now it’s the first day of school, and Ramona is totes stoked because she’s going to tell about the hole in her house during show and tell. Ramona makes her own bed so that her mother can be liberated, and sets off for school. She is reuinited with Davy, her crush from last year, in the playground, and she thinks about how small the Kindergardeners look. Most of her 1st grade class were in her Kindergarden class, and Ramona, unfortunately, seated next to her nemesis, Susan of the Spring Curls. Ramona desk has her name taped to the front, and she quickly adds her special decorative Q to the end of her name. Her teacher’s name is Mrs. Griggs and she is lame and boring. Ramona gets to tell the class all about the hole chopped in her house at Show and Tell. Unfortunately the class laughs at her and doesn’t believe her. Howie, the douchebag, doesn’t back her up because technically they didn’t chop a hole in her house, they used crowbars to pry some siding off. Methinks someone is jealous of Ramona’s awesome Show and Tell story. Ramona yells that she’ll never play brick factory with Howie again, and Howie shrugs it off and says that he’ll come over and take his bricks back. When Ramona gets home, her mother drags her off on some boring errands, and when they return Howie, sure enough, has already taken his bricks back. I hate you, Howie.

Blah blah blah, Mrs. Grigg sucks, and Beezus has a crush on her teacher. Ramona is doing awesome in reading, but Davy is an undiagnosed dyslexic, so Ramona tries to help him. Unfortunately, Mrs. Grigg thinks that Ramona is not keeping her eyes on her own work, and Ramona keeps getting in trouble. Um, Mrs. Grigg? You have a kid who is reading words backwards in class and you haven’t noticed yet. Maybe if you kept your eyes on your own work and left Ramona alone you wouldn’t be such a deadbeat teacher. Proving once again that she has tunnel vision and is probably dissatisfied with her life, Mrs. Grigg assigns them to make paper bag owls. When Susan, who has no imagination, copies Ramona’s owl, Mrs. Grigg praises Susan’s owl. Ramona can’t tell that Susan copied her because then she’ll be called a tattletale, so, unable to deal with her catch-22 situation, Ramona balls up her owl and throws it away. Ramona’s distaste for Susan grows, and mine does too. I know in one of these books they end up being friends, but I don’t think I’ll ever forgive Susan. Parent’s night is that night, and Ramona doesn’t have an owl to leave on her desk, so she crumples up Susan’s to even the playing field a little bit. Susan, of course, tattles, and Ramona runs home so fast that she falls down and scrapes her knees. She tells her mom when she gets home and Mrs. Quimby cleans her wounds and tells her how brave she is. Ramona doesn’t want her mom to know that she’s not brave – she’s scared because she did something bad. There is, however, some good news – the new room is finished and Ramona gets to sleep in it tonight!

The Quimby parents head off to family night and then to Howie’s parents’ house afterward, and Howie’s old bag grandmother comes over to babysit. She is a total deadbeat and just sits and watches TV and knits instead of having any interaction with the children. Wait, who is watching Howie and Willa Jean? This is very strange. Ramona tries to make conversation with Howie’s grandma and is basically ignored, so Ramona goes to bed early. Ramona worries about what Mrs. Grigg will say to her parents and writes her mother a note saying
‘Come here moth
er. Come here to me.’
Who could resist that? Ramona lies awake until her mother comes home, presumably with a little buzz from the partyin’ at Howie’s house. Mrs. Grigg has told Ramona’s parents that Ramona refused to make an owl for parents’ night and crumpled Susan’s owl. Beezus, who’s at the doorway, says that they’ll start making turkeys next and Ramona is upset because she knows the trouble will just start all over with turkeys. Ramona tells her mom the sad tale of her plagiarized owl, and Mrs. Quimby doesn’t understand why the owl copying episode upset Ramona so badly. Everyone else does, though. Mrs. Quimby says that Mrs. Grigg will expect Ramona to make an apology to Susan, and Ramona is stressed about it. Sure enough, the next day, Mrs. Grigg interrupts Show and Tell to humiliate Ramona, making her walk up to the front of the room and apologize to Susan in front of the whole class. Bitch. Susan smirks and then Ramona adds, in an aside that only Susan can hear, ‘Even if you are a copycat – who stinks!’ Slap that ho down, Ramona!

Ramona starts to get really bored in school. It’s rainy outside, Mrs. Grigg wear the same pea-soup green colored sweater every day (ew, on so many levels) and she has to wear Beezus’ old boots to school because she outgrew her red rain boots. One day, they are working in their workbooks, and there is a picture of a chair with a wrinkled slipcover and two sentences below saying ‘This is for Pal’ and ‘This is not for Pal.’ Pal is a mythical dog featured in their workbooks. Ramona, thinking outside the box, circles ‘This is for Pal’ thinking that Pal’s owner could have put a slipcover on the chair so that Pal could lie on it. That’s pretty smart for a first grader. Mrs. Grigg comes along and tells her she’s wrong without asking any questions and Ramona is upset. And now I’m going to tell you a long story, but you can skip it if you want:

When I was in third grade we had IQ tests done, which I guess is pretty standard. The IQ test had a lot of questions like Ramona’s Pal question, and honestly, if you had any advanced thought processes at all, you were bound to get most of them wrong. One question that I remember in particular had a picture of a clown, a girl with overly long bangs covering her eyes, a chair, and something else. You were supposed to circle the one picture of something that you don’t see every day. Now I don’t know about where you grew up, but in a very small southern farming town with a very big divide between wealthy and impoverished people, we didn’t see a whole lot of the circus, but there were a hell of a lot of unkempt people, so I circled the clown. That was incorrect, and you were supposed to circle the girl with the bangs. Anyway, when we got our results back from our IQ tests, mine was listed as being slightly above that of your average houseplant. So I was taken out of my Gifted and Talented classroom and put into a Special Ed. (at that time EMH) classroom. Seriously. Now, I’m not a rocket scientist, but considering the fact that when I went in to meet my Kindergarden teacher before school started I read her a chapter of Charlotte’s Web by myself, I was not, by any means, going to fit in well in an EMH classroom. My mom, who happened to be the G&T coordinator for our county at the time, threw a shit fit and had me retested with another, more accurate test. It turned out that I was not, in fact, on the same logical level as a fern, and I was moved back into my old classroom. However, for the rest of my grade school career (well, except for high school) I had to put up with teachers and peers insinuating that the only reason I was in the advanced classes was because of my mom. And that is why those kinds of questions are wrong. Thank you.

Back to Ramona.

Ramona is scared of the dark in her new room, and her Animals of Africa book is not helping the situation, because the picture of the gorilla is giving her nightmares. Ramona refuses to tell anyone that she’s afraid because she feels like if she does she’ll have failed at growing up. Aw. She suffers in silence, procrastinating before bedtime, trying to thin happy thoughts, and wishing she was sharing her room with Beezus again. One morning she tells her mother about a bad dream – she was standing by the zinnias in the backyard and something was chasing her, but she couldn’t run. Beezus dream-jacks her and says that she’s had that dream lots of times, and also that she has nightmares about standing in her school hallway in just her underwear. Ramona is bitter that Beezus even gets to have dreams first. She’s in such an ill mood that, when she gets to school, she sits on the bottom of the steps and frowns. She wonders what it’s like to have classes upstairs with the big kids, and thinks that anything must be better than first grade and Mrs. Grigg. Mr. Cardoza, Beezus’ hunka-hunka burnin’ teacher comes by and says, ‘I know who you are!’ Ramona, expecting him to say something like ‘You’re Beezus’ sister’ is not impressed until her calls her by name – Ramona Q – and gives her a big smile. She feels uplifted enough to head on to class.

Beezus loves school and Ramona hates it, especially on the day that Mrs. Grigg hands out progress reports. Ramona goes and hides hers in her underwear drawer, which is a great plan until show-off Beezus whips hers out at dinner. Ramona is forced to go get her progress report, and it’s not so bad, but apparently Mrs. Grigg still has not figured out that Davy is dyslexic, because she makes a comment about Ramona being more interested in other’s seatwork and needing to keep her hands to herself. Shut up, Mrs. Grigg. Ramona is very upset, and understandably so. Her mother, being a total juvenile herself, tells Ramona to grow up, and Ramona responds once again that she’s trying to. Really, Mrs. Quimby? You tell your six-year-old daughter to grow up? That’s good parenting right there. Ramona gets so upset that she announces that she’s going to say a bad word. Mrs. Quimby tells her to go ahead, and Ramona yells ‘Guts!’ about five times. Ramona is shocked when the family laughs at her. Mrs. Quimby says ‘Ramona, what are we going to do with you?’ and Ramona says ‘Love me!’ Aw, poor Ramona. Ramona thinks they love Beezus more than her, and her parents explain that love isn’t like a cup of sugar that gets used up, there’s plenty of it to go around. Ramona says that they don’t laugh at Beezus like they do her, and Beezus says that they used to. She lists a couple of times when she was traumatized by her parents laughing at her and then actually sticks up for Ramona because Mrs. Grigg is kind of a lame teacher. Wow, Beezus. I actually don’t hate you right now. Maybe there’s some redemption for you, after all. Ramona goes into her room and gets her Animals of Africa book and hides it under the couch cushion and, for once, gets a good night’s sleep.

The next day, Ramona is determined that things will be better, so she decides to have an adventure and takes a different route to school. This plan backfires when she is confronted with a strange dog, who growls at her. Ramona throws her lunch box at it, but misses, and as it’s following her, she throws her shoe at it too. She misses but to her dismay the dog picks up the shoe, takes it into the yard, and starts chewing on it. Knowing there’s not a chance in hell that she’s getting close enough to the dog to get her shoe back, Ramona picks up her lunch box and heads to school, one shoe off and one shoe on. She gets to school and tries to hide her shoeless foot by sitting with her leg curled under her, but wouldn’t you know it? Today is the day that Mrs. Grigg finally asks Ramona to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, an honor that Ramona has previously been denied. Do kids still say the Pledge in school? Ramona is busted, but Mrs. Grigg, surprisingly, understands when Ramona tells the dog story. She says that Ramona can borrow an old boot from the closet when they go out for recess, but Ramona ain’t having that. She decides to make a slipper out of paper. When the class goes outside for recess, Ramona goes into the bathroom and gets some paper towels. She then sneaks upstairs to Beezus’ classroom and asks to borrow a stapler. She somehow manages to make a slipper out of paper towels, and this kids’ a damn genius. She heads back down to class. Mrs. Grigg, who was apparently off drinking cough syrup or smoking crack behind the lunchroom, somehow managed to not notice that Ramona was not on the playground, but she is very impressed with Ramona’s slipper. Suddenly, there’s a call from the office – the owner of the dog found Ramona’s shoe in their yard and has brought it to school. Ramona gets her shoe back, all is well, and we have

The End. Which is awesome, because I'm going to the opera tonight! I'm so stoked I can't sit still. I'll post Ramona's World next week!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm so lame

Sorry for the lack of posts, I went on vacation, read the Twilight books, and have a work conference. I swear I'm not deserting all three of my loyal Ramona fans! I'll have a post up hopefully by the end of the week!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Beezus and Ramona

Woowie, this is lookin’ to be a long one, folks. This is actually the first ‘official’ Ramona book, although it is told from Beezus’ point of view, and 4-year-old Ramona does so many freakin’ cute things it’s ridiculous – and of course Beezus is bitter through the whole thing. I do end up feeling kind of bad for the ol’ wet blanket, though.

Let’s get started!

We start off learning that Beezus’ life sucks because, unlike other girls’ her age with 4 year old sisters, she has Ramona, who blows into her lemonade through a straw and finger paints and wipes her hands on the neighbor’s cat. Really? I used to frame my big sister for my crimes so she would get a spanking instead of me. If that’s the worst you got, Beezus, consider yourself lucky. So anywhoo, one day Beezus is embroidering a laughing teakettle on a potholder and awesome? What kind of 9 year old does this for fun? I learned to sew to humor my grandmother when I was 13. At 9, I couldn’t sit still long enough for that crap. Anyway, while Beezus is busy being lame around, Ramona is riding her trike around the living room while playing the harmonica with no hands. Awesome. Beezus gets exasperated and tries to get Ramona to go play with her doll, Bendix. What happened to Chevrolet? Ramona says no, and that she wants Beezus to read her Scoopy book, which is her favorite and is about a steam shovel. What’s hilarious about this part is that Ramona has the whole book memorized, and Beezus skips, like, one word and Ramona goes postal on her. When Beezus finishes the book, Ramona goes back to her trike-riding, harmonica-blowing awesomeness, so Beezus asks Ramona if she’d like to go to the library to pick another book. Sa-weet! I love the library. Ramona runs off to get her sweater and comes back with her homemade Easter Bunny ears, refuses to take them off, and proceeds to hop all the way to the library. En route, the get stopped by two old ladies who talk about how adorable Ramona is, and Beezus reflects on the fact that no one will ever call her adorable. She gets ‘sweet child’ and ‘such a nice girl.’ This is when I start feeling sorry for her. It must be hard to be a wet blanket older sister to the awesomeness that is Ramona Quimby. They finally get to the library and Ramona picks out another book about a steam shovel, despite Beezus’ best attempts to redirect her. Hah! When it’s time to check out, Ramona wants her own library card. Apparently the only requirements then were that your dad had a job (sexist pigs!) and you could write your name. Ramona’s dad is gainfully employed, and she insists that she can write her name. When she does, all she writes is I’s and T’s, because she likes the way those letters look. Beezus tries to argue and Ramona explains to her that it’s her name, so she can spell it however she wants to. Word. I had a friend named Kristen who changed the spelling to Kristin in high school. It was weird, but I went with it. Needless to say, they check their books out on Beezus' card.

The day comes when the library book has to be returned, and the whole family is relieved because they’re sick of reading it to Ramona. Ramona, however, balks at the idea of returning the book, so she writes her name on every page in crayon. Genius. Pure, unadulturated genius. Beezus has a total panic attack, and Mrs. Quimby explains that, even though they checked the books out on Beezus’ card, she will not be drawn and quartered for this. Drama much? Instead, she gives Beezus some money and the girls head off to the library to pay for the book. They pay for it and, so that Ramona does not get the idea that she can just do this to any library book she wants to keep, the book becomes Beezus’. Beezus is pretty stoked, because this means she has some power over Ramona. Dictator.

On Friday afternoons, Beezus goes to art class at the rec center, and Ramona plays outside in the sandbox until Beezus is done. Now, this is probably a sign of the times, but when did people ever leave four year olds outside at parks alone for and hour or two at a time. I mean, these books were written in the 50’s and 60’s (wow, that’s awesome, Bev. Way to write timeless classics!) but I’m pretty sure they had pedophiles and kidnappers back then. **Note, I just called my mom and she said hells no, this didn’t happen, but she lived in a tiny southern town. Maybe in a mid-sized town in Oregon things were different?** Beezus is thinking about how people are always talking about how much imagination Ramona has, like the time when she dragged a wading pool up into the middle of the living room and pretended she was a on a boat, or the time she left to go find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and the police had to bring her home. Hah. Beezus is bitter because no one ever says that she has imagination, and she must not have any because the art teacher, Mrs. Robbins, seldom hangs her paintings on the wall at the end of class, and if she does, they are never in the middle where people will see them. Well, that’s just not a very good teacher. I’m sorry, but I teach dance and gym to kids age 2-10 and one thing I’ve learned is that you never make a child feel like they’re inferior to the other students in the class. One of my students is 8, has had my class for three years, and still can’t do a somersault by herself, but dadgummit, I make her feel like doing it with my help is just as much of an accomplishment as the 5 year old in her class that’s turning cartwheels.

Dear Mrs. Robbins,

Beezus is going to grow up looking for validation, get pregnant at 16, and it’s going to be your fault. Just sayin’.


OK, back on track. Beezus loves Fridays because it’s the one time when Ramona can’t interfere, which makes me feel kind of bad for her when, midway through art class, Ramona comes bursting in with Ralph, her imaginary lizard, and says she will no longer play in the sand pile because Howie threw sand on Ralph. Howie, you’re a douche. You get better when you get older, though. Anyway, Mrs. Robbins says Ramona can stay for class, and since they’re painting imaginary animals, she should paint Ralph. Beezus hates this idea, but sucks it up and represses her emotions. Boy, that’s going to cost you a few years down the road, Beez. Ramona starts painting, licks some boy's sucker, and chaos ensues. Beezus finally tells Ramona that she has to go back outside and play or Beezus will tickle her. Tickling being the Kryptonite to Ramona’s Superman, she backs off. Beezus ends up painting a very creative picture (of Ralph, no less) and it gets hung up in the middle of the bulletin board. Way to go Beezus! Crap, I can’t believe I’m cheering for you.

In the next chapter, Henry, Beezus’ friend, comes over to play checkers. Ramona gets mad because no one will play with her and rides her bike into the coffee table, upsetting their checkers game. Ramona gets in trouble, has a tantrum, and gets sent to her room until she can stop bothering Beezus and Henry. She actually opens the door a few times to ask if she can come out, and when her mom asks if she can stop bothering them, she says ‘No.’ and closes the door. Hah. Anyway, when she finally leaves her room her mom gives her a cookie, which is spelled cooky in this book. Did the change the spelling in 1970 or something? A bit later, they hear Ramona screaming to be let in the bathroom and saying that Ribsy, Henry’s dog, is in the bathroom and won’t let her in. Apparently, Ribsy took her cookie, so she made him go to the bathroom, since he doesn’t have a bedroom to be sent to. I actually LOL’d at that one. Ribsy locked himself in, everyone is freaking out, and Ramona makes the announcement that she has to go to the bathroom. Good timing, Ramona. Luckily, when they go next door to borrow a cup of toilet, the neighbor tells Mrs. Quimby how to pick the lock with a nail file. THIS DOES NOT WORK! I just tried it on our bathroom door. No, really, I did. Henry goes home and Beezus has a silent bitter fit about how bad Ramona is and how she always gets her way, and how Ramona thinks that, now that she’s gotten rid of Henry, Beezus will play with her, but Beezus won’t because she doesn’t like her one little bit! Seriously, it’s a run-on like that in the book, too.

One day Beezus gets home from school and her mother asks her to watch Ramona while she goes to the market. Beezus agrees, but during the time that it takes her to change into her play clothes, Ramona has disappeared. Beezus searches the house in a panic, with vision of Ramona trying to cross streets alone and talking to strangers. That is some scary shite, Beezus. Finally, she hears a noise in the basement, and when she goes down there, she finds Ramona eating apples from a crate that they apparently keep down there. You know, I eat a lot of apples. This may be a good money saving idea for me, too. I wonder if you have to keep them in the basement to keep from going bad, though. We don’t have a basement, so if I buy a crate of apples and they all go bad, that’s a case of false economy. Beezus is relieved until she realizes that Ramona is only taking one bite out of every apple and then tossing it to the side. When Beezus freaks, Ramona explains that the first bite of the apple is the best bite, so she’s taking the first bite out of every apple. OK, Ramona, I’m pretty lenient with you, but this is going a little too far. Beezus is all ready to scold Ramona until they get upstairs, and Ramona sits herself in a chair, closes her eyes, and tells Beezus that she’s resting. As this is similar to time-out and makes life easier for Beezus, she goes along with it.

The phone rings and it’s Aunt Beatrice. Beezus vents to her, and Aunt B laughs and says that she should ignore it, and talk her parents into ignoring it too, because a lot of times small children will be naughty to get attention. Then she suggests that their mom make applesauce with the ruined apples, and hangs up the phone. Beezus likes this plan, so she intercepts her mother before she gets in the house, and Mrs. Quimby agrees to go along with it. Apparently, it was sound advice, because Ramona announces pleasantly that she was very bad that afternoon and is really disappointed when she fails to elicit a reaction. Dad is enrolled in the scheme, applesauce is made, and it seems that Ramona has learned her lesson… this time.

Saturday morning is cold and rainy, and Beezus is helping her mom with housework while Ramona rides her trike around singing ‘I’m going to have a par-tee. I’m going to have a par-tee.’ Strangely, no one takes this as a warning sign, even when Mrs. Kemp calls asking if she can leave Willa Jean at their house when she drops Howie off. Mrs. Quimby thinks she must have just forgotten that she’d said Howie could come over… until he shows up, followed by about 10 other kids! They realize that Ramona is having an unsanctioned house party ! Oh noes! Chaos ensues, with Howie threatening to suck everyone up in the vacuum cleaner and Ramona having a hissie fit because no one will play with her toys. Suddenly, Howie grabs a drum and announces that they’re having a parade. Beezus, thinking fast, creates instruments and flags for all the kids to march with, and they parade around the house. For refreshments, they have tons of applesauce thanks to Ramona’s recent apple adventure, and fig newtons. Things are going smoothly until Ramona announces that the cookies have worms in them. This grosses people out, and the fig newtons become the bane of the partygoers’ existence. Ramona, upset that the refreshments at her party are not getting good reviews, has a fit. She gets sent to her room mid-party and the kids resume their parade. Ramona is still in her room when the kids’ parents come to pick them up. When questioned about why she had a party without asking, she replies that when she asks, no one lets her do things. Good logic, girlfriend. It looks like you got away with it, too.

Later, it’s Beezus’ 10th birthday, and all she wants is a pink cake and to have Aunt Beatrice over for dinner. Hey Mrs. Quimby, you just got off easy. Beezus is super stoked because she just played Sacajawea in a play at a P.T.A. meeting and will get to AW about it, and because she will get presents. Word. Unfortunately, when she gets home from school, her mom asks her to watch Ramona so that she can make Beezus’ birthday cake. Apparently, she tried earlier, but while she answered a phone call Ramona dropped all of the eggs, shells and all, into the mixer with the cream and butter and the cake was ruined. Man, that sucks. Beezus is angry because Ramona isn’t sorry at all about this, but her mom starts up a new cake and Beezus reads ‘Hansel and Gretel’ to Ramona to keep her quiet. Once the cake is in the oven, Beezus figures she’s safe, so she sits down to read 202 Things to do on a Rainy Afternoon, which does not sound like a fun book, but to each his own. Hey, I'm 26 and I still read Beverly Cleary and Harry Potter. Ain't no other loser quite like me. Ramona starts walking through the living room playing Hansel and dropping graham cracker crumbs from her pocket in case she, I don’t know, gets lost on the way to the dining room? Beezus tells her to try playing Gretel instead and, surprisingly, Ramona agrees. Ruh roh. The baking cake smell in the house is replaced by an odd smell, and Beezus and her mom go to check on her cake only to find… Bendix the doll is in the oven with the cake! OMGWTFBBQ? Ramona had decided that Bendix would play the wicked witch to her Gretel, and tossed Bendix in the oven. Beezus starts crying and Ramona starts crying, and Beezus stops repressing her emotions for once and tells Ramona off for ruining two birthday cakes in one day. You know, that really does suck. Ramona is sent to her room and Mrs. Quimby calls Aunt Beatrice to pick up a cake at the bakery. Beezus puts herself on a guilt trip because she doesn’t love Ramona right now, and she knows sisters are always supposed to love each other. Aw, Beezus, that’s OK. Even the Olson twins don’t always get along .

Aunt Beatrice shows up with presents and a birthday cake, and things are looking up for Beezus. Aunt Beatrice has brought Beezus a real grown-up sewing kit which, um, SQUEE! She’s also brought a blue dress for Beezus that matches her eyes, which actually sounds really pretty.

At dinner, Beezus keeps trying to tell Aunt Beatrice about her stellar acting debut as Sacajawea, but Ramona keeps interrupting with inane comments about liking purple jelly better than red jelly, then putting jelly on her mashed potatoes, which everyone freaks out about, and I probably wouldn’t. My sweet husband puts hot sauce on spaghetti, maybe jelly isn’t that much of a step away. Ramona gets sent to her room and Beezus finally gets to tell about the play, but her moment is ruined. Aunt Beatrice notices that Beezus is upset and talks her into telling the family about it, and Beezus spills her guts – she doesn’t always love Ramona, and she’s knows she’s awful for it, but she can’t help it! Aunt Beatrice and Mrs. Quimby laugh, and explain that they didn’t always love each other growing up either – they even tell some stories about Aunt Beatrice, the younger sibling, doing some very Ramona-esque things. Beatrice realizes that things will get better, and Ramona is allowed to return to the table post-jellygate. Aunt Beatrice brings out a beautiful pink cake and they all sing happy birthday. Ramona gets carried away and sings it several times, and although Mrs. Quimby tells her that once is enough, for once Beezus thinks that her little sister isn’t exasperating at all. Aw

The End

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

**I’m going to go ahead and apologize. My stud muffin husband and I were celebrating the arrival of his economic stimulus payment tonight, so I may be a little buzzin’.**

This book starts off with the Quimby clan plus aunt Beatrice (for whom Beezus The Wet Blanket is named) eating dinner. Ramona is super stoked because Howie’s rich uncle is coming home to visit. Apparently he’s been in Saudi Arabia riding camels and drilling oil, and Ramona thinks he’ll add a kick to the boring afternoons at Howie’s where his grandmother is paid to watch Beezus and herself. Word. I love rich people. Aunt Bea remembers him from high school, and nobody much cares after that. A few days later the famed unkie-poo arrives, and unfortunately for Ramona, he is a douche. He brings the kids camel saddles (oh, cause they’ll love those) and a unicycle for Howie (who is in third grade – can he even ride a two-wheeler?) and an accordion for Willa Jean, who is not even 3. Really, Uncle Hobart? Did you think these were age appropriate gifts, or did the Saudi sun bake your brains? Also, Uncle H. picks on Ramona, which makes him a horrible person in my book. Willa Jean, of course, breaks the accordion, and Howie can’t ride the unicycle. Shocker. The only upside to this is that, if Howie learns to ride the unicycle, he might give Ramona his bike. Sweet.

I never learned to ride a bike well when I was a kid, so when I decided a year ago to be a triathelete, my darling husband went and bought me a bike. Sadly, I HATED IT. I don’t like going downhill because you go to fast, and going uphill is way hard, so the day the bike was stolen was one of the happiest of my life. Sigh. Ramona, don’t put too much stake on getting that bike. I think a new pair of running shoes is so much better.

Anywhoo, Mrs. Kemp (Howie’s grandmother, who watches them) blames Ramona for Willa Jean breaking her accordion, and Ramona realizes that Mrs Kemp does not like her (sic). Ramona is not having a good day.

Ramona decides she does not want to stay at Howie’s after school anymore, and finds an unlikely ally in Beezus. The next night at dinner, they start an assault against their parents, and manage to convince them that they can stay home by themselves until their parents get home from work. Oh, and Beezus is worried about her complexion, and Picky-picky is being a pest. These things become important later. Beezus and Ramona have a discussion after dinner and cover the fact the their father is now getting his teaching degree (way to go Mr. Quimby!) and their mother skipped dessert, and therefore must be pregnant. Um, when I was pregnant, dessert came first. Just saying.

Beezus and Ramona are overly nice to each other after school, but Ramona is starting to get bored. Then, one day, she decides to go ride bikes with Howie, and when Beezus gets all lordy over her, she calls Beezus Pizzaface. Good insult, Ramona. Beezus is really concerned about her skin, as most teenagers are, so she is really hurt. Ramona falls off her bike, Beezus won’t help her clean up the blood, and she calls her a hateful little creep. Aw. Ramona is really sad and more hints that Mrs. Quimby is pregnant! OMG, Bev. You’re really knocking us over the head with this one. Mr. Quimby, whose publicist still has not confirmed that his wife is pregnant, tells the girls NOT TO DO ANYTHING THAT MIGHT UPSET THEIR MOTHER.

So, predictably, the next day when they come home from school, Picky-picky is dead. I love animals a lot, but I’m kind of glad that I won’t have to type his name out anymore. Hyphens interrupt my flow, which is weird because I have a hyphenated name. Ramona and Beezus put their pizzaface issues aside to bury the cat so that Mrs. Quimby won’t be upset, and Ramona says the world’s cutest prayer: ‘Now we lay Picky-picky down to sleep. We pray thee, Lord, his soul to keep. Thy love stay with him through the night and wake him with the morning light. Amen.’ My version is different, but oh well. Ramona even makes Picky-picky a tomb stone. Aw. The upshot is, when the ‘rents come home, they feel bad that the girls buried the cat by themselves, and they finally confirm the pregnancy! Whoohoo! Now we don’t have to hear anymore about how Mrs. Quimby is skipping desert and having sneaky phone calls. Suddenly Ramona realizes that she’s going to be a middle child and this makes her a little nervous.

Ramona starts wearing Chiquita banana stickers plastered to her forehead at school, and that’s awesome. It’s not a catching fad, though. Mrs. Quimby has a mysterious phone convo with Aunt Bea… dun dun duh. The family is picking out names for the baby, and HAH! Ramona, who named her doll Chevrolet, thinks Aston Martin is a good name for a boy. Oh, Lord, if you ever bless me with a son, I’m naming him Aston Martin in honor of Ramona. Ramona goes for a walk with her mom and lets on that she’s nervous about being a middle child, and for once, Mrs. Quimby handles it well and tells Ramona that as her middle child, she will have a special place right in the middle of her heart and letting her feel the baby kick. Good job, Mrs. Quimby. Usually I think you’re pretty much a deadbeat, but that raised you to passable in my book. Next time your daughter needs a sheep costume though, suck it up and make it, especially if she’s not getting anything for Christmas.

Oh, and Mr. Quimby can only find one teaching job and that’s in south eastern Oregon, which is apparently full of nothing but sagebrush and sheep. Dude, that sucks. Now we have a teacher shortage. You could get a job in my town, Mr. Quimby.

Howie is getting tired of Uncle Hobart, and so is Willa Jean, who actually calls Ramona on the phone and asks her to come over because she’s lonely. Poor Willa Jean. You have a douche for an uncle, a shrew for a grandmother, and a brother who is a tiny, closeted homosexual, which has to result in him being really stressed out all the time. Your life sucks. You know what else sucks? Ramona puts some clues together and comes up with the idea that… douchy uncle Hobart is dating her Aunt Bea! Oh noes! One night without warning who two daughters, whom she knows can’t stand the guy, Mrs. Quimby has Uncle Hobart and Aunt Bea over for dinner. Dun dun duh. Ramona, who is hilarious, keeps asking Uncle Hobart when he’s going to be leaving, and he finally admits that he’s not going back to Saudi Arabia – he’s giving up the warm, sandy beaches and moving to Alaska. And guess what – Aunt Bea is going with him! No, they won’t be shacking up – they’re getting MARRIED! Horrors! Oh, well, Ramona. It’s not all bad. Maybe you’ll meet Jewel. But dude, Aunt Bea, that was fast. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with marrying for money, but some things just aren’t worth it. What if you guys have a baby and he buys the baby an inappropriate gift? You could end up with a Bubba Ludwig on your hands. Anywhoos, they’re planning on a town hall wedding, which is totes not going to go down well with the girls – who include Mrs. Quimby, this time. They decide to plan a quicky wedding.

The next day, Uncle Hobart takes Ramona, Beezus, Howie, and Willa Jean to the mall to shop for bridesmaids dresses, ring bearer outfits, and a flower girl dress. They have wedding stores in malls? I had to go to a boutique that was in a strip mall. The staff was awesome, though, and my dress was awesome too. It sounds like the staff at this store is not awesome, because Ramona gets the distinct impression that the saleswoman would prefer that they weren’t there. Um, lady? You work on commission, right? Big mistake. Big. Huge! Anyway, they order dresses and bouquets and get ice cream, and Uncle Hobart is starting to look better to the kids now. Yeah. If a man buys me clothes and ice cream, I’ll totally slut out for him. That’s how my darling husband got me.

Anywhoo, wedding plans, wedding presents, Mrs. Quimby’s getting huge. Hobart and Bea have a minor spat the night before the wedding when they realize that no one ordered flowers for the church, but they make up quickly. They decide to get flowers from the neighborhood, which I think is sweet, and Aunt Bea mentions that she invited her entire 3rd grade class, which makes Ramona all judgey. Ramona, you’re in 3rd grade in this book. You don’t really get to judge, kthnxbye. Anyway, we’ve got bigger problems because OMGWTFBBQ?!?! The bridesmaid’s dresses haven’t come yet! Uncle Hobart calls the store and sets the mean saleslady straight, and the dresses come just as they’re leaving for the rehearsal. Whew.

The day of the wedding, Ramona’s dress is too short, so after Beezus hurriedly bastes it, Ramona Scotch tapes the hem for reinforcements. Grandpa Quimby shows up in a surprise! limousine, and they head off to the church. Beezus and Ramona’s dress shoes are too small, so Beezus hides them in a potted plant – their dresses are long, so their socks won’t show. Oh, Beezus. Once again, read one of these books. Somebody’s going to see those socks. Sure enough, Howie’s Grandmother has stitched the wedding ring onto the ring bearer’s pillow too tightly, Uncle H. has to try to pull it off, and the ring goes sailing across the room. People start crawling around looking for the ring, and Ramona spots the ring on the heel of her aunt’s shoe, so she must have stepped on it while looking under her skirts. I would have seriously died if this had happened at my wedding. Ramona crawls under her aunt to get the ring, exposing her white socks, but no one minds because she’s saved the day! At the reception, Ramona catches the bouquet and she and Beezus tie their shoes to the back of the getaway car, which is a whole lot better than condoms.

Soon after the wedding, Mrs. Quimby goes into labor, and she and Mr. Quimby head off for the hospital. Ramona and Beezus spend the night alone (really?) and end up sleeping in Beezus’ bed. Mr. Quimby comes home, and tells them that they have a new sister – Roberta Day Quimby, six pounds, four ounces, and they’ll be able to see her tomorrow. Oh, I teared up a little bit. I want a baby. They are so cute, and they grow up to be children, which are even better.

The next day they go to the hospital, but the nurses won’t let Ramona in to see her mom and sister because she’s under 12 and might carry contagious diseases. ASSHOLES! I mean, seriously, that is wrong. Ramona is really sad, really jealous, and starts thinking maybe she does have a disease, so she starts scratching herself like she has chicken pox. A kindly old Doctor comes by and checks her out, and apparently understands, because he tells her she has siblingitis and writes her a prescription for lots of hugs and kisses. Aw. Ramona gets to see her new baby sister soon when her mother comes home, and Ramona thinks her baby is just the best baby in the world – until she realizes that Roberta is cross-eyed! Haha. Her mother reassures her that all babies are crossed eyed at first, Roberta does cute baby things that make my ovaries itch, and we have

The end.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ramona and Her Father

This one was my fav-o-rite growing up, so I’m really excited to recap it!

The book opens with Payday, and Ramona, who is now in second grade, is sitting in her chair making a joyful noise unto the Lord (Ye-e-eep!) and making out her Christmas list. The fact that it is September doesn’t seem to bother her. Her list includes mice or ginny (sic) pig, myna bird that talks, and cuckoo clock. I want those things too! We get some foreshadowing when Mrs. Quimby opens the fridge and says it’s a good thing it’s payday. Word, Mrs. Quimby. I love payday, too. Ramona convinces her mom that they should go to the Whopperburger. That’s a clever disguise for Burger King, there, Beverly.

Anyway, Beezus comes in and bitchfaces about school and how all of her friends are boring and she doesn’t want to do creative writing, and then she calls Ramona a pest. Um, Beezus? Have you ever read any of these books? It’s pretty clear that God hates you. I’d rather be a pest. When Beezus leaves the room, Ramona asks why Beezus is being such a brat lately, and her mom says she’s reached a difficult age. Um, PMS?

Ramona’s dad gets home and he’s brought gummy bears and the news that he’s been laid off. Ruh roh. Looks like no Whopperburger for y’all tonight. Mrs. Quimby only works part time, they’ve just added a new room to their house, and the Quimbys are going to be broke. I get that. My cutie pie husband and I have good jobs, but if one of us couldn’t work we’d be screwed. No judgment here. Beezus says she could babysit to help out, and Ramona tries to think of ways she can help. Lemonade stands don’t make much money, and she has pounded rose petals and soaked them in water to make perfume before (the fuck?) but it usually just smells like rotten rose petals. Oookay. Ramona decides that the best way she can help is by marking things off her Christmas list. Aw, Ramona. That’s cute, but you’re not coming off as very smart right now. She marks everything off except for mice, and then writes one happy family and draws four smiling faces and a happy cat face. *tear*

It’s been a week or two, and Mr. Quimby still doesn’t have another job, but he doesn’t seem like he’s being very proactive, because all he does is sit around the house and smoke and watch TV. He says something about a little boy in a commercial making a million dollars, so Ramona decides that she’s going to start trying to be in a commercial. She starts practicing all the time and watches TV for commercials with children. Then she goes around singing the little ditties and repeating all the kids’ lines, hoping that someone will see her and decide to cast her in a commercial. I TOTALLY DID THAT! Ramona, you made me into the weird kid in school, dammit. It’s going to take a while for you to gain back my trust, just so you know.

Anyway, Ramona goes around repeating lines from commercials, one of which insults her teacher (Mrs. Rogers, your pantyhose are wrinkled like an elephant’s legs) and generally being weird but adorable, just like I was (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Mr. Quimby comes to school for the parent-teacher conference, and I remember those, but I never worried about them because I was a goody two shoes. Ramona is left outside with a world of possibilities, so of course she makes a beeline for the burdock plants, which are shedding their burs. She hooks all the burs together and crowns herself with them, and thinks she looks like a kid in one of the commercials that gets crowned. She’s all excited, and heads off to meet her dad, who is mighty impressed with her fancy crown.

When they get home, the bur crown won’t come off Ramona’s head, and so her dad has to start cutting them out. Her mom and sister come home and laugh at her. Poor Ramona. She’s afraid someone will guess why she crowned herself, and is now a little embarrassed about her commercial star aspirations. She and Mr. Quimby go into the living room to watch TV while he cuts the burs out of her hair, and Ramona, not doing a good job of hiding her bur-crown-making motives, says she wishes she could earn a million dollars like the kids in the commercials. Mr. Quimby, who seems to have guessed what’s going on, says that he wouldn’t trade her for a million dollars, and Ramona feels better. Aw.

Anyway, now it’s October, and Mr. Quimby still doesn’t have a job. Picky-picky, the cat, is living up to his name and refusing to eat the cheapo cat food he’s served (more foreshadowing), and the family eats lots of leftovers and everyone’s in a bad mood. Seriously though, Quimbys, we’re in a recession. If that’s as bad as it gets, consider yourself lucky. At least your house hasn’t been foreclosed. Anywhoo, Howie’s grandmother has brought enough pumpkins for the whole neighborhood, and Ramona goes down into the basement to get theirs. It’s huge! They’re really excited and carve up the pumpkin, and for once, everyone is happy. They give the pumpkin a huge, scary face, and they love it. Whoot.

Late that night, Ramona hears a noise in the kitchen and gets scared, because she thinks the pumpkin is coming to get her. I used to have this picture of a clown in my playroom, and I loved it during the day, but at night when the fans would come on it would blow around and make noise, and I was terrified that it would come into my room and get me. I was also afraid of roaches, spiders, snakes, mayonnaise, and this guy Pete that lived down the street from me and turned out to be a huge pothead. But anyway. She makes her parents go into the kitchen to make sure the pumpkin isn’t coming to eat her, and as it turns out – Picky-picky has been eating the pumpkin! Damn that cheap cat food! Ramona is distraught, and her mom starts cutting up the pieces of pumpkin that weren’t eaten by the cat. Beezus gets all mad and says it’s her dad’s fault for buying Picky-picky cheap cat food. When he says they can’t afford the expensive cat food she asks why they can afford for him to smoke which, good point. Beezus tells her dad that cigarettes can kill him. “Your lungs will turn black and you’ll die!” And besides they pollute the air. This, of course, keeps Ramona awake all night worrying that her dad will drop dead at any minute. This leads to my favorite plotline ever in a Ramona Quimby book:

Beezus and Ramona Campaign to Make Their Dad Stop Smoking!!!!!!!

This is near and dear to my heart, because my sister and I stole all of their ideas to try to make our parents stop smoking! And it totally worked! Whoot!

Beezus and Ramona start making No Smoking signs and leaving them around the house. Their dad ignores them, but they don’t give up. They’re running out of big pieces of paper, so they start making signs on smaller scraps of paper. They leave them in his bathrobe pocket (me too!!) around his toothbrush handle (yep, did that!), inside his shoes (that got me in lots of trouble – my mom thought it was a bug!) and pretty much everywhere they know he’ll look. Finally, they take all of his cigarettes out of the pack and roll up little signs to replace them with. Ramona gets in trouble (not Beezus, who doesn’t take any of the blame because she’s a total wimp) and Ramona quits her campaign.

One day Ramona comes home from school and her dad isn’t there. The doors are locked and she can’t get in the house. She has to sit on the back steps in the rain, and she’s really upset because she thinks her dad doesn’t love her anymore because of the no smoking campaign. Finally her father comes back and explains that he was getting his unemployment check and the line was really long. Um, Mr. Quimby? If you’d gone in the morning instead of sitting on your ass smoking, watching TV and not applying for new jobs, maybe you would have been home on time. Just saying. But Ramona is OK with it and they go inside, where Mr. Quimby pulls out a pack of cigarettes and then… doesn’t light one! Instead he asks what she’d like to do, and they finally decide to draw THE WORLD’S LONGEST PICTURE on a roll of shelf paper. They draw the state of Oregan and talk. Ramona’s father says that he will try to quit smoking, but that even if he does, Picky-picky will still have to eat Puss-puddy, the cheapo cat food. YAY! It worked! And since Beezus clammed up and let you get in trouble, you get all the credit, Ramona!

OK, remember at the beginning of the book when Beezus was whining about having to do creative writing? Well now it turns out that all she has to do is interview an old person. Mrs. Swink, their neighbor, is really old, so Ramona suggests her, and despite the fact that she wear polyester pant suits, Beezus agrees that this is a good idea. During the interview, she brings up making tin-can stilts and calling other kids ‘Pieface’ and this is all it takes to have Ramona off and running. She goes and tells Howie (remember, he lives in her neighborhood and took one of the wheels off of her trike in the first book?) because he’s good at making things.

Howie makes the stilts out of coffee cans, and makes a pair out of tuna cans for his little sister, Willa Jean. Howie and Ramona clank around the neighborhood on their tin can stilts calling people Pieface and singing ‘99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’ which was a favorite of mine in second grade, too. She and Howie set a goal to get all the way to one bottle of beer, and the next day they accomplish it, but she is late getting home for dinner. Her family’s ill tempers and reprimands can’t rain on her parade though, and as she clonks off to the kitchen to set the table she begins the song again. That’s the spirit, Ramona!

One day in Sunday school, their teacher starts talking about the Christmas pageant, and apparently they all have Sunday school together, because Ramona is their to hear Beezus and Henry Huggins get assigned the parts of Mary and Joseph. We had Sunday school separated by grades, but I did still go to my sister’s class sometimes because I idolized her. Ramona doesn’t want to be an angel walking in with the rest of the kindergarden-5th graders, so she says she wants to be a sheep. This means that her mother, who is very busy with her full-time job, will have to make her a sheep costume, but Ramona has faith in her mom. Her mom, however, does not think this would be possible, which, really? My mom worked full time and she still made us dresses and costumes and all kinds of other stuff. My mom must be Supermom.

Between this and the pageant things are kind of boring, but Ramona does catch her father smoking and get totes jealous of Howie’s sheep costume, which his grandmother is making. Also, her shoes are getting too small, but she doesn’t tell anybody, because she’s afraid if she does she won’t get her sheep costume. Aw. Oh, and Ramona’s father gets a job! He’ll be working as a checker in a grocery store. Way to go!

Anyways, on the way to the pageant, Ramona is all pissed because her sheep costume consists of faded pink pajamas, a sheep hat, and white socks on her feet. Yeah, that pretty much sucks. She says she won’t be in the pageant, and her parents are kind of mean about it. She goes into the room where everyone is getting ready and hides behind the Christmas tree. She’s really bitter because Howie and Davy, the other sheep, have great costumes and are having a good time. Beezus, in her Mary costume, comes over and tries to coax her out, but Ramona ain’t having it. She kind of wants to go out there and play with Howie and Davy, but now that she’s told her parents she won’t be in the pageant she feels like she can’t back down. Way to have a spine, Ramona. Finally, three big girls who are putting on robes see her, and talk about how cute she is. It turns out that they are being the Three Wise Persons, since the boys are all too pansy-assed to be the Three Wise Men. The big girls are putting on makeup, and one of them puts some mascara on Ramona’s nose to make her feel more like a sheep. Ramona is totes excited, and Howie and Davy are totes jealous, so they get mascara noses too. Posers. They all go up and have the pageant, and everything is great, until Ramona worries that her parents won’t know who she is because of her black nose. Ramona, this is starting to turn into a pattern. Last time you were worried that no one would recognize you because of your witch mask. Seriously, girl, calm your anxiety. However, Ramona sees her father looking at her and smiling, and she realizes that he knows it’s her. Ramona is finally happy and we have:

The end.