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copyright 1981 Beverly Cleary. intermediate fiction, ages 7-10. 190 pgs.

Damn, I love Ramona books. Most of them. Age 8 is a good one. This is about the closest a narrative can come to truthfully giving an eight-year-old's perspective without using first-person voice, which might sound dumb coming from some adult writers, but Beverly could handle it. She has an excellent understanding of what delights kids, and what pisses them off, and why they sometimes can't explain themselves, and what they're really thinking.   Beverly is good.

Ramona is having a crappy time of it - her sister's a bitch, this kid in her class calls her names, she accidentally smacks herself in the head with a raw egg in front of her whole class, she has to play with the bratty whiner up the street, and her parents are too preoccupied with money troubles to give her any attention. This is no sob story, just an explanation of how frustrated kids can become by a combination of trying events. And of course it's funny. It's funny because it's TRUE, haw haw haw.

The book wraps up nicely in a gently surprising way. Beverly is magically able to give Ramona's family a warm moment wherein each of them realize "Hey, we're pretty lucky to have each other" - but it's not dumb or Hallmarky in the least. That's talent. That's a good book.

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