“Ramona’s World” by Beverly Cleary & “The Best Halloween Ever” by Barbara Robinson

Ramona’s World

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Ramona series, reading each one of them multiple times. (I swear I still have large chunks of several of them memorized and could recite them if you want).Years later, grown up and looking for books to share with my niece, I came back to Ramona, only to discover that Cleary had written a new novel about Ramona during my time away. Curious, I picked it up (actually did the audio version), both eager to read it and worried that series might not live up to my fond memories of it.

In “Ramona’s World,” Ramona is entering the fourth grade. She has a new baby sister, Roberta and her older sister, Beezus is heading into high school. Her first day at school, Ramona meets her new best friend, Daisy.

“Ramona’s World” is exactly what I expected from my return to the universe of the Quimby family. I don’t mean that as a negative. Ramona has some adventures, makes some errors and there’s a warmth to the novels that is timeless. While this isn’t my favorite in the series, it’s still nice to see Ramona beginning to grow up a bit and yet still prone to the same insecurities and foibles that affect us all. Cleary’s novels are timeless in this respect and one of the reasons I think they’ve endured as a favorite among children for fifty plus years.

Visiting “Ramona’s World” was a pleasant journey back to familiar childhood memories.

 

Best Halloween Ever

 After creating havoc at Christmas, the Herdmans are back. This time, their previous antics lead the town to cancel Halloween since the holiday has devolved into little more than the Herdman family laying in wait to beat up and steal unsuspecting trick-or-treaters candy.This sequel to “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is a bit of a one-joke story, spread out over the course of a hundred or so pages. The central conflict is the Herdman’s have led the town to cancel Halloween, which makes all the kids upset. Then, the town hatches a plan to have Halloween at the local school so they can control what’s going on and in the hopes that the Herdmans won’t find out or show up.

The strength of “Christmas Pageant” was while the Herdmans were the antagonists of the story, they had a human side and flashes of being more than just a bunch of surly bullies. And that’s not quite the case here, where the entire book is spent talking about how horrible they are. It does lead to a nice little moment at the end involving the Herdmans and years of stolen Halloween candy, but the moments leading up to it are a bit repetitive and difficult to stomach.

Had I not read “Best Christmas Pageant” I might be more inclined to like this novel. Or maybe the big problem is this book is competing with the memory of enjoying “Pageant” in my youth

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