Ramona and Her Mother


ramona-and-her-mother-quimby-beverly-clearyThis humorous book is not in a series but is the fifth in a collection of eight books that feature Ramona Quimby as the main character. Written by Beverly Cleary, the Ramona Collection is published by HarperTrophy, which is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Ramona and Her Mother is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

The Quimby family decides to celebrate Mr. Quimby's new job by inviting the neighbors over for brunch. Ramona is charged with entertaining Howie's sister, Willa Jean, a task she dislikes. Willa Jean misbehaves, and Ramona is insulted when she overhears one of the guests remark that she is acting just like Ramona did at that age. Beezus helps out at the party, and Mrs. Quimby says she could never get along without her. Ramona is hurt that her mother never says similar things about her.

One Saturday Ramona's mother suggests they sew together. Ramona is delighted to have time with her mom and works on stitching a pair of pants for her stuffed elephant. Their pleasant morning takes a turn for the worse when Beezus interrupts to try on a skirt and Ramona's elephant pants don't turn out. Mrs. Quimby casually reminds Ramona that life is filled with small disappointments. Instead of feeling comforted, Ramona is furious and thinks no one understands her.

At school, when Ramona tells her teacher she can't spell, Mrs. Rudge insists that there is no such word as can't, which confuses Ramona because her teacher has just said the word. After school at Howie's house, Ramona spills bluing all over her clothes and must put on Howie's old jeans and shirt. Her parents are so late picking her up that she thinks they've forgotten all about her and that she will have to live at Howie's forever.

When the Quimbys get home, they realize that no one remembered to plug in the Crockpot so the stew didn't cook. Everyone must eat pancakes for dinner. Ramona's mother and father quarrel about who was at fault and who makes better pancakes. The girls watch as Mrs. Quimby smacks Mr. Quimby with the pancake turner. Beezus and Ramona snuggle in bed together and worry that their parents will get divorced. The girls are relieved the next morning when their mother and father tell them that they were just tired the night before and everything is fine. When Ramona announces that grownups should be perfect, Mr. and Mrs. Quimby gently remind her that everybody quarrels once in a while.

Beezus decides to spend her allowance on a professional haircut. Ramona gets a haircut, too. Although Ramona's hair turns out beautiful, Beezus' hair looks terrible. Ramona wrestles with conflicting emotions — she's glad she looks nicer than her sister but sympathizes with the way Beezus looks and feels.

Ramona wears her new pajamas to school underneath her clothes but soon feels hot under so many layers. Mrs. Rudge sends her to the nurse, and Ramona looks forward to going home and having her mother take care of her. When Ramona's temperature is normal, Mrs. Rudge allows Ramona to take off the pajamas and put them in her desk, promising not to tell anyone.

That evening, Ramona realizes that she forgot to bring her pajamas home and must sneak into bed before her mother notices that she isn't wearing them. When she overhears Mrs. Quimby talking on the phone to her teacher, she assumes that Mrs. Rudge has broken her promise. Convinced that no one likes her, Ramona decides to run away from home.

Instead of trying to change her mind, Ramona's mother helps Ramona pack a suitcase, making it so heavy that Ramona can't carry it. Ramona understands that her mother doesn't want her to run away. Mrs. Quimby says that she could never get along without her little girl. Ramona asks why her teacher called, and her mother explains that she's worried about Ramona's twitchy nose. Ramona assures her mother that she just likes pretending to be a little rabbit sometimes. Relieved, Mrs. Quimby tells Ramona that rabbits are nice, but she likes having a little girl.

Christian beliefs

Ramona frequently prays to God about her problems and hopes that He is not too busy to listen.

Authority roles

Ramona's father and mother are presented as the authority figures at home. Mrs. Rudge, her second-grade teacher, is respected at school.

Other belief systems


Profanity/Graphic violence





National Book Award, 1981

Discussion topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • What does Willa Jean do that reminds one of the guests of Ramona?
    How does Ramona feel when she hears this?
    Does her mother agree or disagree?

  • Why does Ramona get frustrated when she is sewing with her mother?
    Tell about a time when you spent time with one of us [your mother or father].
    Was that time ever interrupted?
    How did the interruption make you feel?

  • Why is Ramona confused when Mrs. Rudge says there is no such word as can't?
    Is Mrs. Rudge right or wrong?
    What did Mrs. Rudge mean?

  • Why isn't the stew ready when the Quimby family comes home from their long day?
    Who is responsible for making dinner at our house?
    What was the worst dinner our family has ever had?

  • Ramona thinks parents should be cheerful and loving all the time, never sick and never tired. Is this possible?
    Is it true that people are grumpier when they are tired? Are you?
    Tell about a time when you were grumpy because you were tired.

  • How does Beezus feel when she spends her own allowance to get her hair cut at a salon?
    Have you ever bought something with your own money and wish you hadn't afterward?

  • What does Mr. Quimby mean when he says the world doesn't revolve around Ramona?
    What does he want her to learn?

  • Why does Ramona's mother help pack a suitcase when Ramona decides to run away?
    Have you ever wanted to run away from our home? Why?
    What made you change your mind?

  • What kinds of things does Ramona remember when she realizes how much her mother loves her?
    What are some things that I do [or your mother does] for you that make you feel loved?

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