This humorous book is not in a series but is the second 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 the Brave is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Six-year-old Ramona may be the youngest person in the Quimby family, but she prides herself on being brave. When boys in Beezus' class make fun of Beezus' name, Ramona stands up for her sister. Instead of thanking Ramona, Beezus is furious that Ramona has embarrassed her. The girls quarrel so often that Mrs. Quimby announces a plan to add an extra bedroom onto the house which Ramona and Beezus will take turns sleeping in. The workmen show up to begin construction and pour a concrete slab. When no one is looking, Ramona marks it with her signature Q, decorated with cat ears and whiskers. This way the new room will really be hers, even when Beezus is sleeping there.
On the first day of first grade, Ramona meets her new teacher, Mrs. Griggs, who calls her "Ramona Kitty Cat" because of the way she draws the letter Q. After that, Ramona can't seem to do anything right. During Show and Tell, the class laughs at her; then her teacher confuses her helping a classmate with cheating. When she catches Susan copying the way she makes an owl out of a paper bag, Ramona destroys her bag and Susan's.
Ramona runs home after school to put everything behind her, but she slips on the wet sidewalk and skins her knee. Ramona's mother calls her brave for not crying and announces that the extra bedroom is finished and that Ramona will be the first to sleep there. On Parents' Night, Ramona tries to sleep in her new room while Mr. and Mrs. Quimby go to school to meet Mrs. Griggs. She leaves a note asking her mother to come see her when she gets home. Impressed by Ramona's note, Mrs. Quimby visits Ramona in the new bedroom. She tells Ramona that Mrs. Griggs expects her to apologize for ruining Susan's artwork. Ramona complies.
Sometimes Ramona is scared when sleeping in the new bedroom. She fondly remembers when she and her sister shared a room and giggled together. Meanwhile Mrs. Griggs sends home progress reports, and Ramona hides hers. When Beezus presents her report at dinner, Mr. Quimby asks to see Ramona's. Mrs. Griggs' report is mostly positive but mentions that Ramona needs to work on her self-control.
After a pep talk from her mother, Ramona is so confident that she walks to school by a different route and gets lost. She encounters a growling dog that steals her shoe when she throws it at him. She reaches school late and has only one shoe. Mrs. Griggs chooses her to lead the flag salute. Ramona stands on one foot to hide her missing shoe. Mrs. Griggs suggests that Ramona wear a pair of unclaimed boots from the cloakroom, but Ramona sneaks into the girls' bathroom and makes a slipper for her shoeless foot using a stapler and paper towels. To Ramona's surprise, Mrs. Griggs admires the slipper and allows her to decorate it with a bunny face. By the end of the day, the missing shoe has been brought to the principal's office, and Ramona wears it home.
Ramona prays before sleeping. She asks God to bless her family, including her cat. Sometimes she repeats her prayers in case God was not listening the first time. When some boys call Ramona's sister "Jesus, Beezus," Ramona tells them not to take the Lord's name in vain, something she learned from her Sunday school teacher. After she throws away Susan's paper owl, she runs home as though she is running away from God, although she learned in Sunday school that He is everywhere.
Ramona's father and mother are presented as the authority figures at home. They love and care for Ramona and Beezus, and they look out for their children's best interests. When Ramona accuses her parents of loving her sister more, Mrs. Quimby assures Ramona that love is not like sugar that gets used up. Later, Ramona's mother gives her a pep talk to help her regain her excitement about the first grade. There will always be enough love to go around. The students respect Mrs. Griggs, Ramona's first-grade teacher.
Other belief systems
The workmen smash a hole in the house and cover it with a piece of plastic before they leave. The girls hear it flapping at night and imagine that a ghost has come to haunt their house.
One afternoon when she and her sister, Beezus, are on the playground, some boys begin chanting "Jesus, Beezus." In an effort to defend her sister, Ramona tells them not to take the Lord's name in vain.
Mark Twain Award, 1978; Golden Archer Award, 1977
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Why did the author title this book Ramona the Brave?
Can you remember some of the brave things that Ramona does at home and at school?
When was the last time you felt brave?
- When the boys on the playground are teasing Beezus, why does Ramona tell them not to take the Lord's name in vain?
What does that mean?
Have you ever tried to do something nice for someone and have been misunderstood?
- Why are Ramona and her sister so glad that their parents are building an extra bedroom onto the house?
What is the best thing about sharing?
What is the hardest thing?
- Why is Ramona angry with Susan as they are making paper owls?
Have you ever felt that someone was copying your ideas?
What did you do?
- On the first night that Ramona sleeps in her new bedroom, how does she feel?
Have you ever gotten something that you asked for and then were surprised that it wasn't what you thought it would be?
- Why does Ramona hide her progress report in a drawer?
How does Mrs. Quimby respond when Ramona says that her parents love Beezus more than they love her?
Have you ever felt this way?
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