Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Sometimes it seems like Ramona Quimby’s older sister, Beezus, gets all the attention and privileges in the family. In fact, Mrs. Quimby lets neighbors and friends know she couldn’t get along without Beezus, and Ramona feels left out. Yet, a drastic decision Ramona makes will remind her just how her mother feels about her in Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary.

What a pleasure to revisit one of my favorites in the Ramona series. (What a double-pleasure to have obtained a copy that even smells like the one I read all those years ago. Oh yes indeed.) Cleary has such an understanding of life through the eyes of a seven-and-a-half-year-old, showing how much those childhood matters matter. Reading chapter books! Feeling carsick. New pajamas! Mom and Dad have a spat. And, yes—practicing one’s cursive handwriting!

There are dashes of humor that got laughter out of me. But the story (and the Ramona series altogether) doesn’t avoid real-life situations that friends and families can find themselves in. And, gee, much like when I recently reread Ramona and Her Father, being able now to understand this story on a greater level from both an adult’s and a child’s point of view makes it all the more touching.

Sure, I may be growing even more sensitive in my adult years, but if a children’s book ever got a tear out of me toward the end, this one did. I blame the wonderful illustration that accompanies the scene!

Let’s see now, I’ve got two more Ramona books to revisit, and the newer one I’ve not read before…

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Here’s my review of Ramona and Her Father.

Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Ramona Quimby wishes her family would perk up. Her cat refuses to eat, her older sister is going through a moody and defiant phase, and her parents worry a lot these days, since her father just lost his job. But if Ramona sets her mind to it, maybe she can find a way to help her father through this rough patch in Ramona and Her Father by author Beverly Cleary.

Just as I remembered from childhood, I found this to be one of the darker Ramona books (although back then, “sadder” is the word I likely would’ve used.) It’s certainly a serious situation for Ramona here, with her family being even more strapped for cash than usual, and her father putting his lungs in danger with cigarettes. (Wow–I’d forgotten all about Ramona’s mission against her father’s smoking habit! My, does that lead to some parts that prick my heart in a whole new way, now that I can better appreciate how Mr. Quimby must feel.)

But there’s still patented Ramona humor and fun in the read, with a heroine whose feelings about things like eating out at Whopperburger are so on point. Plus, seeing how an imperfect Mr. Quimby is a good man who loves and gets a kick out of his daughter makes this a winner of a tale.

Oh–and did I mention this book’s delightfully Christmassy ending?

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Ramona and Her Father is the fourth book in the Ramona Quimby series. Another one on the “sadder but wonderful” side is the book that precedes this one, Ramona the Brave.

Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Henry Huggins is determined to earn enough money to buy himself a bicycle. Along with the other advantages of his having a set of wheels, maybe it’ll stop that older kid, Scooter, from needlessly showing his bike off so much. Although a neighbor of Henry’s, Beezus Quimby, happens to be a girl, she just may be able to help Henry get a bike of his own in Henry and Beezus by author Beverly Cleary.

I vaguely remember reading this book sometime during my childhood, back when I read other books about Henry and his dog, Ribsy. But I picked it up again since I’ve been revisiting the Ramona Quimby books, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Nothing like reading a tale from the 1950s, where kids say things like “Gee whillikers!” and really mean it. And if I once found this book to be funny, it was even funnier to me this time around. No, not just because somebody says “Gee whillikers!” but because the humor in the story is truly on point. Henry has quite the adventures in his efforts to raise money, and Beezus and Ramona add much to the fun of it all (even though it may not all be “fun” for them, exactly.)

There are a good bunch of reasons why Beverly Cleary was my favorite author as a child. A great story like this one is a good reason.

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Henry and Beezus is the second book in the Henry Huggins series.

Henry Huggins (Henry Huggins, #1) Henry and Ribsy (Henry, #3) Henry and the Paper Route (Henry, #4)

Henry and the Clubhouse (Henry, #5) Ribsy (Henry Huggins)

The Blood Moons: Wrath of Elijah by Kachi Ugo

Fantasy 3

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
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The Blood Moons: Wrath of Elijah by Kachi Ugo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“I am Angelus Mikhail, servant of Elohim. Your life has been weighed with the Scales of Yeshua and you have been found worthy of the Wrath of Elijah. Follow me.”

Growing up in the slums of Ajegunle, twelve-year-old Johnny Akinwale has always been feverish on a frequent basis. Johnny’s doctors were never aware that his fevers are the effects of an ancient power he possesses as a descendant of the biblical prophet Elijah. Once Johnny learns of his power and true ancestry, he’s pulled into a mission with other young warriors to thwart an evil scheme of epic destruction in The Blood Moons: Wrath of Elijah by author Kachi Ugo.

While this is a middle grade fantasy with juvenile readability, I was very much drawn to this tale and remained engrossed as I read.

There’s a richness and balance to the story: a boy who finds it hard not to hate his impoverished life and his neglectful parents, even as he knows he’s destined for greatness. Coming into his supernatural power doesn’t release him of all natural rules, such as his having to get to school on time. And even with its dangerous, high-stakes adventure, the story makes room for humor that had me laughing out loud.

The illustrations toward the beginning of the book are a nice bonus! It would’ve been great if they’d continued throughout the story.

I found the development to be a tad awkward in places, particularly in an instance where foreshadowing might have helped. There are several grammar and technical errors in the book, along with one word choice I wouldn’t deem appropriate for a children’s book. However, my main disappointment was in finding that the story essentially ends with a cliffhanger. Even if the first book in a series may not tie up the loose ends of a subplot or two, I prefer a book to have a complete story where the main plot is resolved by the end.

I’d like to continue this series—but not because the cliffhanger left me hanging. I’m truly interested to know what will happen with Johnny and the other young Descendants of the Patriarchs.