Sunday, April 8, 2012

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 kidr 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 Suran 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.