Ramona has been delighting readers for nearly half a century. It’s no surprise, then, that when the first movie based on Beverly Cleary’s beloved series is released, it’s Ramona—not her sister Beezus, or their friend, and first main character in the series, Henry Huggins— who gets top billing. Ramona is a character that children find irresistible. She’s daring and imaginative, a trouble-maker who’s misunderstood by her parents, her teachers, and especially by her older sister, Beezus. When we meet Ramona in the new movie Ramona and Beezus (which released nationwide on Friday) she’s a precocious 9 and 3 month year old, whose best friend, Howie, lives next door. She can’t seem to do anything right in the eyes of her teacher or her classmates and she’s known to throw tantrums and teach her baby sister how to stick out her tongue. Basically, she’s much like a lot of little girls I know!
It’s for this reason that Beverly Cleary’s character is still so popular. Ramona first appeared on the scene in 1955, but her antics are just as relatable today. It’s clear in the books, and in the movie, that Ramona is in the process of growing up, and is not quite ready to give up her childhood fantasies, something we can all relate to (even if I was more of an exasperated older sister like Beezus!)
The movie deftly combines several titles and story lines from the original series, and despite its name, actually deals mostly with one title, Ramona and Her Father. The movie does touch on some tough issues, like Ramona’s father losing his job, her sister fumbling through her first real crush, and the possibility of having to move away from their childhood home.
All in all, it’s a movie that the whole family will enjoy, but it’s probably not suitable for children younger than seven due to its length, and the complexity of the plot. Instead, I would recommend starting them on the series early – whether you read her aloud, or on your own, it will be very hard to resist smiling at the antics of this extraordinary little girl.
Also, be sure to check out this Today Show interview with a quote from Scholastic Book Clubs President, Judy Newman, and a piece by our very own Scholastic Kid Reporter, Grace Choi, who visited the set of Ramona and Beezus a year ago!