Jennifer's Reviews > Beezus and Ramona

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
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May 05, 10

bookshelves: kids, chapterbook, audiobooks, realistic, funny
Read from April 30 to May 04, 2010, read count: 1

I know I read some of the Ramona books as a child but I don't have particularly strong memories of them, so listening to the audiobook was an interesting experience. Stockard Channing narrates this Listening Library edition and I was disappointed with the results. I really enjoy Channing's film and tv work, but the narration just didn't work for me. Her children's voices were either whiny or outright obnoxious which makes it hard for me to decide how much of my dislike of Ramona was the writing and how much was the narration. I had always remembered Ramona as being high-spirited and mischievous, but she's out and out badly behaved here, definitely a brat. I just recently read a comment from someone that they aimed to be a parent like one of the Quimbys and after listening to this, I found that amazing. Ramona is allowed to behave terribly and wiggle out of consequences through much of the book and what finally causes her parents to quite firmly put their feet down is when she mixes jelly with her mashed potatoes - a very minor thing compared to the temper tantrums, wastefulness of the apples episode, or the destruction of a library book. There are also some things that I think date the book significantly. The whole concept that Beezus and Ramona walk themselves to the library, or that four-year-old Ramona is expected to play by herself in the sandbox with no supervision while Beezus is in art class, even the embroidering of the pot holders for Aunt Beatrice all set this in a time that will be unfamiliar to kids now. I wonder if I would have liked this more with a different narrator or reading it in standard book format and I'm certainly interested in reading at least one more to see if they're more like what I half-remember. Also, the whole bathroom/hair washing thing is completely foreign to me - apparently the Quimbys only have one bathroom (not unusual) but they wash their hair in the sink which indicates to me that they don't have a bathtub or shower at all (this is what is unfamiliar to me). Also apparently they don't do it that often since it's made into a rather large event in the course of the story. That's just a very different dynamic from how I've been lucky to be able to live and it gave me food for thought.
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