Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Release Date: Scholastic
Genre: MG Realistic Fiction
Ramona is about to start Kindergarten and she couldn't be more excited. At school, she meets her new teacher, Mrs. Binney. Mrs. Binney has important rules like sitting quietly and keeping your hands to yourself. There are even lessons on how to write your name, but the school doesn't turn out to be as much fun as Ramona had anticipated. Especially when Mrs. Binney reprimands Ramona for pulling on Susan's bouncy curls and insists that she never do it again. Ramona wants to stop pulling Susan's hair, but she knows that she can't promise Mrs. Binney that she will never do it again.
It had been a long time since I've re-read Ramona the Pest, way too long. I'd forgotten how special Ramona was to my reading experiences growing up. She is such a sweet girl, not nearly as much of a pest as people made her out to be. She may be strong-willed and know what she wants, and is willing to go after it, but she is also adorable and sweet and has a kind heart. Qualities that I've always admired about Ramona. I loved how the story started with Ramona's early experiences going to Kindergarten and followed along with her year. Every once in awhile stopping for a few misunderstandings that happen when you put a bunch of children in a classroom. The cutest moment was when Ramona met Mrs. Binney and she tells her to "sit here for the present." Ramona takes this to mean that she is going to receive a present from her teacher, even I wanted to give her a present over the misunderstanding. Ramona strikes me as trying her best to behave in Kindergarten, and she seemed to want Mrs. Binney to like her, to please her. Ramona's Kindergarten sounded like it was more fun than work. This got me thinking about all the ways that Kindergarten must have changed since I was growing up. Sure there are still the early rules about sitting in your seat, raising your hand, moving to printing upper and lower case letters. But, I couldn't help think about the things that are different. For instance is there still time for art projects, and are there parties? I know Halloween parties where you wear costumes are probably a thing of the past. Is Kindergarten more work than they used to be? I remember learning through pretend play, having a grocery store with a cash register and selling plastic fruits and vegetables to my friends. Even gluing macaroni onto to a piece of paper to write our names. I kinda envision a Kindergarten of today with Ipads and drills on the letters of the alphabet. Yet, children of today are also learning things at a much earlier age than I did. I see this even with my kiddo in middle school, so I guess in some ways change is good, as long as there is still time for laughter and creativity. Ramona the Pest was such a delightful re-read and I'm hoping to pick up a few more books in the series. Such fun to visit another time and reflect on the similarities/differences.