Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
UPDATED: Just wanted to mention that the illustrations of Ramona in the more recently printed books do not resemble the character at all. She seems to have been Disneyed into a cute, impish little darling. This is the Ramona that I remember, and the Ramona represented in the text of the book:
Ramona the Pest is one of the earliest chapter books that I can remember reading. I connected with her instantly because I was also the youngest with much older sisters who never wanted me tagging along, and things that seemed perfectly reasonable in my head had a way of going terribly wrong once put into action. Of course, my sisters were not so patient and long-suffering as Beezus – they had no compunctions about “disciplining” me when I got too bratty or amusing themselves with mild cruelty, like holding treats over my head and making me jump for it, convincing me that I was adopted and therefore not really part of the family, or giving me brightly foil-wrapped “candy” that was actually a cube of chicken bouillon.
Re-reading the Ramona books as an adult was a joyful trip down memory lane. Beverly Cleary accurately captures the weird obsessions and POV of an imaginative and energetic small child as she navigates a confusing world and matures from nursery school to pre-teen. Most striking to me, maybe because I identified so strongly with it as a child, was her evolving attitude toward the girl with the bouncy blonde curls. In kindergarten, she struggled mightily, and sometimes lost, with the urge to stretch those curls and watch them “boing”. Over the years, the fascination lessened, until she grows out of it, and she comes to know and pity Susan as a real person with her own troubles.
This was the audio version from Audible, and Stockard Channing’s reading is very good, although I found her mouth-breathing voice for very young children a little distracting, and it was hard to disassociate her voice from Rizzo, the one movie character I most associate with the actress.