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.