Inside the Imagination of an Eight-year-old: A Review of ‘Ramona Quimby, Age 8’

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”  St. Thomas More

Suggested Grade Level

Grades 2-3

Review and Thoughts

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary is a realistic fiction story about a girl named Ramona, her sister Beezus, and her parents. We are allowed a close up look at this family as they handle the pressures of everyday life, adjustments to new schools for the girls and the dad, money issues, and family responsibilities.  All of this is seen through the eyes and imagination of Ramona.

Ramona is a lively and dramatic character.  Throughout the story the reader gets an intimate glimpse into her thoughts and interpretations about the events in her life. Many times these thoughts are humorous and may sound familiar and at other times they are not very nice, like those of an upset eight- year-old.  What’s fair and not fair is always an issue with children, and Ramona is no different.  She just desperately wants to be “the clever young daughter who is doing her part to help the family,” but life and her perception of things seem to get in the way, and she struggles to uphold that promise to herself.

Her parents face issues that are common to many families.  The dad is changing careers so he is going back to school. He also has a part time job at night to help with the finances. On top of that there is serious car trouble. There are periods when the parents are weighed down by the pressures of juggling everyday life and the responsibility of being parents, yet in every situation the parents always bring the family together – back to a loving unit.

Beezus, the older sister, faces new challenges as well when she begins junior high.  She has the struggle of trying to grow up in her new school environment with friends and boys and yet remain a supportive member of the family.

Every chapter includes a challenge for Ramona with a few storylines that continue to develop throughout the book.  The events are very descriptive and will give the reader a close up view of what Ramona’s life is like.  Her adventures begin when she rides the bus for the first time but then encounters a boy who takes her brand new eraser. This boy is a major headache for Ramona for some time, but she begins to see him as someone who is not quite the “Yard Ape” she thought he was.  It is refreshing to see that the boy is given another dimension to his personality later on in the story than the typical bothersome classmate.  Ramona additionally faces one of her biggest challenges when she has to go to a babysitter who also watches a younger, bossy, demanding girl named Willa Jean – a thorn in Ramona’s side.  The relationship with the younger Willa Jean is a struggle for her and even with daily renewed conviction that she will do better she does not always succeed.  She wants to act “horrid” but she does not act on those feelings.  The biggest hurt and disappointment for Ramona at school is when she overhears her new teacher telling another person that she is a show off and a nuisance.  That conversation influences many of her thoughts and actions after that because above all else she does not want to be a nuisance! There is resolution to the problems Ramona experiences sometimes expressed in her thoughts at the end of a chapter.  These thoughts are uplifting.

Everything is not unpleasant for Ramona. She experiences real kindness and friendship throughout her ordeals.  When she accidentally cracks a raw egg on her head at school and of course is mortified, another girl shows concern for her and tries to help her.   On another day, she gets sick and throws up in the classroom – that “terrible, horrible, dreadful, awful thing.”  Marsha, a classmate, helps her and tells her it will be all right.  After that the school secretary gives her sympathy and takes care of her until her mother gets to school.  At the end of the book, a stranger pays for the family dinner while at a restaurant because they are such a nice family.

This book is recommended for second and third graders.  Emerging readers love to read chapter books, but this book is more for a proficient second grade reader or an older third grader because of the length and subject matter.  I mentioned some details that may be problems for a younger reader..  Even though these items are realistic, not all second graders have the attitude sometimes described in this book and parents should be aware and weigh the pros and cons of introducing their child to them.

This book was named a Newberry Honor book in 1982.

Possible Issues

  • Ramona nicknames the boy who takes her eraser “Yard Ape.”
  • Ramona and Beezus refuse to eat tongue for dinner, “They sat in silence thinking cross things about parents, especially their parents, their unfair, unkind parents who did not appreciate what nice daughters they had.” (I’m sorry but I have to agree with the girls about not eating tongue!)
  • While fixing the family dinner, a consequence of refusing to eat tongue for dinner, the girls agree “There was no need to let their parents, their mean old parents, know what was going on.”
  • Beezus tells Ramona what she should do while fixing the family dinner, and Ramona says, “Oh shut up.”
  • Beezus worries about going to a party with 8th grade boys because they act like little boys at parties.
  • To show affection to his wife, the parents hug and then the dad gives the mom “a playful slap on the bottom.”
  • When Ramona still thought her teacher felt she was a nuisance she decided she would do a book report her way and said, “Well, Mrs. Whaley could just go jump in the lake.”
  • Mother told Ramona to clean her room several times and Ramona responded, “Well, you don’t have to yell at me.” And to herself she thought, “Nag, nag, nag.”
  • Beezus says to her mother, “Mother, I think you are mean.”

Further Discussion:

  • Discuss the importance of not only respectful speech but respectful thoughts as a way to become a person with a strong character.
  • Every day (possibly at dinner time or prayer time) tell about a person who showed kindness or helped in some way during the day. Give thanks for that person and ask God to bless him or her.
  • Set aside daily prayer time for the family – prayers said for the entire family, individual members, difficulties, and of course thanksgiving.

Catholic Resources

Some Prayers To Say with Kids

“For My Mother”

A Child’s Prayer

Dear Blessed Mother Mary,
Help my mom to be a good mother.
Give her peace and wisdom,
strength and courage,
grace and happiness.
Be nearby when she needs help.
Keep her close to your Son, Jesus.
Help me to always show my mom
how very much I love her.

from Loyola Kids Books of Everyday Prayers © 2002 by Catherine Odell and Margaret Savitskas

“For My Father”

A Child’s Prayer

Dear St. Joseph,
Help my dad to be a good father.
Help him when he is tired,
when he is worried,
when he is in a hurry.
Give him pride in his work and
a little more time to have fun.
Help me to show my dad
how much I love him.

from Loyola Kids Books of Everyday Prayers © 2002 by Catherine Odell and Margaret Savitskas

“A Family Prayer”

        Children                Adults
 Praise be to God  who made us a family.
 Praise be to God  for the love that we share.
 Praise be to God  for sending us Jesus.
 Praise be to God  for teaching us to care.
Help us, Lord Jesus  fill our lives with your Spirit.
Help us, Lord Jesus  teach us how to forgive.
Help us, Lord Jesus  grant us wisdom and patience.
Help us, Lord Jesus  in your grace may we live.
Come, Holy Spirit fill our lives with your gifts.
Come, Holy Spirit help us serve other’s needs.
Come, Holy Spirit teach us faith, hope, and love.
Come, Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and our deeds.
Be with us, God we ask Mary to help us
Be with us, God we look to Joseph for aid.
Be with us, God may we respect one another.
Be with us, God may our hope never fade.
Hear us, Lord Jesus watch over our family.
Hear us, Lord Jesus help our faith to grow strong.
Hear us, Lord Jesus come and dwell in our hearts.
Hear us, Lord Jesus to you we belong.
Spirit, we praise you you invite us to know you.
Spirit, we praise you may we walk in your light.
Spirit, we praise you may we find you in all things.
Spirit, we praise you all day and all night.


Loyola Press

“Prayers to Begin a School Year”

God of wisdom and might,
we praise you for the wonder of our being,
for mind, body and spirit.
Be with our children as they begin
a new school year.
Bless them and their teachers and staff.
Give the strength and grace as their bodies grow;
wisdom and knowledge to their minds
as they search for understanding;
and peace and zeal to their hearts.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers