The Worst Christmas Ever by Elizabeth and Juliet Rowe

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 complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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The Worst Christmas Ever by Elizabeth and Juliet Rowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it should almost be the most wonderful day. Christmas is tomorrow! But when mishaps and accidents suddenly hit a family–from the babysitter trapped in the bathroom to a car wreck–the family will learn what can turn around The Worst Christmas Ever, a play by Elizabeth and Juliet Rowe.

That’s right. It’s been a while since I’ve read a play. Moreover, this is the first time I’ve read and reviewed a play for children, written by a young pair of sisters. I’m glad I didn’t read the play’s description/blurb beforehand, since it pretty much gives away the crux and conclusion of the matter. It was more delightful to discover the story’s crux and conclusion for myself.

This was an enjoyable read for me. It’s cute and humorous with a serious and heartfelt holiday message in it. There’s one aspect tied to the message, concerning the child characters, that I wish could’ve been a tad more realistic, but it doesn’t ruin the story.

I’d recommend this play to any Christian group looking to put on a children’s production–or to anyone else who can appreciate a quick and uplifting tale with refreshing innocence and Christmas warmth.

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Ramona’s World 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’s World by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Wow! Ramona Quimby isn’t far from turning “zeroteen” years old. She’s now in fourth grade, makes a new best friend, and gets to spend time being the big sister for a change, at home. (Well, “a” big sister, anyway.) But as always, her adventures this year will come with their share of challenges in Ramona’s World by author Beverly Cleary.

So, here we are. I’ve finally read the belated conclusion to the Ramona Quimby series, after first meeting Ramona back when I was six. I’ll admit this last book (which was published fifteen years after the original last book, Ramona Forever, and almost forty-five years after the first book, Beezus and Ramona) didn’t have quite the same “Ramona book” feel that I’m accustomed to.

Of course, I did read and reread the other books as a child first before revisiting them as a grownup, and of course x2, Ramona is growing up herself. Nothing against her friend Howie, but Ramona’s finding that she needs more girl time, now. Plus, she’s liked a boy or two, here and there, but when it comes to a certain boy in her fourth grade class, liking him is, well, a little different.

Anyway, I got a good helping of laughs out of this book’s humor, so that was much the same. And the girl I was, who’s yet in me, can still identify a lot with this young heroine: earning the calluses on her hands, holding an unfolded paper clip in front of her mouth, pondering how lame it is for her teacher to reward good spelling with Reward Words that are even harder to spell.

All in all, it was a delight to finish one of my all-time favorite series. Again. 🙂

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The first few times around, it was a delight to finish this series with Ramona Forever.

An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

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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An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Polly finds out she’s not quite like other girls when she goes to visit her cousins in the city. It may lead to some awkward situations, but perhaps Polly’s differentness will prove not to be such a bad thing in An Old-Fashioned Girl, a coming of age novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Okay, so I’ll confess right out the gate that Alcott’s admission at the beginning of the last chapter ruined the end of the book for me. But as I came to like the characters so much, I can forgive how their creator deals with them in the end.

I enjoyed much of this book’s wording. How the characters speak, and how the author speaks about them, is what most makes these folks a pleasure. On the whole, I like Polly and Tom the best as children. Their dance at the party in Chapter 7 is…well, it’s just flat out cute.

The music struck up, and away they went, Tom hopping one way and Polly the other, in a most ungraceful manner.

“Keep time to the music,” gasped Polly.

“Can’t. Never could,” returned Tom.

“Keep step with me, then, and don’t tread on my toes,” pleaded Polly.

“Never mind. Keep bobbing, and we’ll come right by and by,” muttered Tom, giving his unfortunate partner a sudden whisk, which nearly landed both on the floor.

But they did not “get right by and by”; for Tom, in his frantic efforts to do his duty, nearly annihilated poor Polly. He tramped, he bobbed, he skated, he twirled her to the right, dragged her to the left…

Too many perfectly worded parts and tidbits to name. There’s Polly’s evening of flirtation as a young woman at the opera, the “bitter smile” on her face at the end of it, Tom bending to ask her, “Are you tired, Polly?” to which she answers, “Yes, of being nobody.” There’s Fanny’s observation of Maud that she directs at Polly, saying, “Blessed innocence! Don’t you wish you were a child, and dared tell what you want?”

A rather delightful and old-fashioned read from the author of Little Women.

Ramona Forever 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 Forever by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Changes are afoot in Ramona Quimby’s neck of the woods. Her father is on a new job search, and a momentous turning point is coming for Ramona and her older sister, Beezus. Plus, there are surprises in store around the Quimby house: one big surprise, and one “little” surprise that’s just as big! Through her adventures of growing up, Ramona is still Ramona in Ramona Forever by author Beverly Cleary.

Well! This book was originally a smashing end to the Ramona series, back in 1984, before the 1999 addition of one more Ramona book. Even with Forever no longer being the last, it’s a smashing continuation and still one of my favorites.

It’s got its laugh-out-loud moments and its heart-tugging moments when things get real. And, honestly, why do grownups treat children in some of the silly ways they do? (Yikes. I’m a grownup now. Do I do any of that silly stuff?) I understand Ramona’s disinclination to giving people the silent treatment: “Ramona often yelled at people, but never refused to speak. Nothing could happen if you didn’t speak, and she liked things to happen.” And I’ve always been proud of the way Ramona saves the day in this story—oh, yes, she does!

Never a dull moment in this book full of changes in Ramona’s life, and I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series, which will be all-new to me.

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Yep. Beverly Cleary added one more book to the Ramona series while I wasn’t looking: Ramona’s World.