Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ramona and Beezus and Beverly Cleary

I liked The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I liked Muggy Maggie, her handwriting-related trials and stubbornness. I liked Socks the cat and Ribsy the dog.

But I loved Ramona best.

I can't think about hard-boiled eggs without thinking of Ramona cracking a raw egg on her own. Sometimes the phrase "Yard Ape" pops into my head inexplicably.

My favorite of all, though, was Beezus and Ramona. I just found out there's going to be a movie adaptation. I have mixed feelings about this. Not sure about Selena Gomez as Beezus, but the rest of the cast includes Ginnifer Goodwin (!) as Aunt Bea (she is now too hip to be Beatrice, I get it), John Corbett (!!) as Mr. Quimby, and Sandra Oh (!!!) as Mrs. Meachum. Little Joey King will play Ramona. I think she has the right look.

Bridget Moynahan as Mrs. Quimby and Josh Duhamel aren't all that shabby either. And now that I'm thinking about it, I'm thinking that that means Josh and Ginnifer are playing a couple, and how much Ginnifer's character would have loved that in 2004's Win a Date With Tad Hamilton.

But I digress.

Beezus and Ramona first released in 1955. The next Ramona book, Ramona and the Pest, didn't release for another 13 years.

I was always a fan of Beezus. We understood each other; we both liked pretty, we both had oldest-daughter syndrome. I loved the end scenes of Beezus and Ramona that I would find my copy, flip to the back, and read them alone, laughing in bed late at night (late, you know, as in 8:30 or so). Poor Beezus - she just couldn't get that picture-perfect birthday. Not when the house smells like burnt rubber because your younger sister stuck a doll into your baking birthday cake. That's life, but it's tough.

And it's tough trying to get your aunt's attention when your sister is debating what kind of jelly to put on her mashed potatoes. That scene always killed me laughing.

Thinking about the potential film made me think about that scene, how it's a conversation around a table with multiple things going on, interconnected dialog, and rising tension until the protagonist does something really, really memorable.

Thinking about that scene and how much I loved it, I realize how those are my favorite scenes to write. Those are the scenes that make me clap my hands together and think I'm not such a slouch at this writing thing after all. Here I thought I loved them just because, but now I realize how the things I read and loved influenced my work, whether I'm aware of it or not.

Beverly Cleary is 93, according to Wikipedia. She was born in McMinnville, Oregon. She wrote 43 books. Caldecott Award winner Paul O. Zelinsky (whose work I mention here) illustrated a few of them, including Ralph S. Mouse. Mrs. Cleary wrote with a magic touch, a special ability as an adult to write about the childlike in a way that was real and respectful at the same time.

Will the Ramona film be any good? Hard to say. I'm hopeful. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl was wonderful; it is possible to make a female-oriented adaptation and not ruin it. Either way, knowing about it reminded me of things I hadn't thought of for a long while.

For that, I'm thankful.


  1. Hillary

    The movie is an adaptation of several books combined but truly captures many of Ramonas traits in life. Beverlys son was on set pretty much every day and the movie was sanctioned by her. I doubt everyone who loved the book will like it but isnt that always true of any book taken to the big screen - but fun it will be!

  2. Anonymous - Thanks for the comment! I love insider information... :-)

  3. I just read Ramona Forever. Actually, I read it out loud to the student I watch after school. Their cat dies and they find him while they are home alone and since they were told "not to worry their mother" because she's pregnant, they bury him in the backyard and have a funeral before their parents get home. I was bawling like a baby the whole time I was reading it. Then I went home and hugged my cat.
    I think there's only one adult book that has ever made me cry, but kids books have a record.

  4. I think that they're going to be able to do a good job putting the movie together.

    The important thing to remember is that the movie will never capture your imagination like the books will.

    Just sit back and enjoy it.


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