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 Inheritance 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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The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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

Edith, an impoverished orphan in the bloom of young womanhood, wins the favor of her wealthy friends (and the love of noble Lord Percy) with her kindness and gentle spirit. But when an envious rival, Lady Ida, schemes to rob Edith of her position, Edith may be forced to reveal the secret hidden in her locket in The Inheritance, a novel by author Louisa May Alcott.

Ah. One of those rare instances when I like a story’s movie better than its book.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading this, hence two stars instead of one. Over the top in its drama, in an almost Shakespearean fashion, this little work of fiction leaves nothing to subtlety or nuance, penned by an obviously unseasoned hand. “Gay,” “noble,” and other forms of the two words, along with a handful of other oft-repeated terms, appear on practically every page, sometimes several times a page, and the heroine is sweetly perfect to the point of becoming something of a nuisance to read about.

Still, though, knowing that this was Alcott’s first novel, which she did not publish, I didn’t plan on taking it too seriously, and about as much as I enjoy reading Shakespeare, I enjoyed this–as a quick, in between, taking-a-break kind of read with an “old-fashionedness” that I am partial to in literature.

I’m happy to know that Alcott did get better, after this.

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Here’s the intro to the 1997 television movie I like so much. Horses are an important part of the story, mind you. 😉

Sister of the Bride 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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Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

She had felt sorry for the girls she had known who had married right after graduation from high school… But now…Barbara was beginning to change her attitude and to wonder if there was something she could do to speed up love. All she needed was a boy.

Barbara’s older sister is getting married, and all the wedding and newlywed business has got Barbara’s sixteen-year-old mind whirling in a poetic daydream. But she may have a thing or two to learn before the coming ceremony is over in Sister of the Bride, a novel by author Beverly Cleary.

Although it’s the fourth book in the First Love series, I wouldn’t at all call this book a romance. The bits of Barbara’s pre-adventures with love are mostly on the fringes of the story here and there, and they follow something of a Jean and Johnny and The Luckiest Girl pattern.

This novel is mainly about wedding preparations and what Barbara learns and observes during the experience, especially what she learns about herself. I can see how I might’ve found the read more thrilling back when I was still looking forward to being sixteen, and rereading it now would’ve had that added dash of nostalgia. Instead, in reading it for the first time now, a good deal of it felt pretty slow, and, well, ordinary.

Still, the humor had me laughing, the lightness was delightful, and I could absolutely empathize with Barbara on various levels. The lover of old-fashioned fiction in me is quite content for having finally read this old-fashioned but relevant tale.

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Here are my reviews of the other three novels in the First Love series.

  

 

 

First Love: A Treasury of Three Favorites by Beverly Cleary

romance-books-3 nadine keels

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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Five Gold Stars

first-loveFirst Love: Jean and Johnny / Fifteen / The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Shelley gets to spend her senior year of high school in sunny San Sebastian. Meeting Philip there only adds to her feeling that she may be the luckiest girl in the world.
When Jean unexpectedly catches the attention of a handsome flirt, Johnny, it all seems too good to be true–and it may very well be.
At fifteen, Jane gets asked out by the most popular boy in school and doesn’t quite know how to handle herself.

Yes, I consider these young adult novels by my favorite childhood author to be classics, and I had a marvelous time taking a second spin with them.

5 Stars for The Luckiest Girl
Gee. Gotta love YA Lit from the 50s!

Though I adored the story from the beginning, I didn’t discern in my adolescence, when I first read The Luckiest Girl, how wise and poignant a story this truly is, not only for its portrayal of young romance and the road to maturity but for its lesson on mother/daughter relationships as well.

I also found that I’d misremembered Philip as some kind of macho guy, likely because my memory of the leaning boy on the book cover of the paperback I read left me with that impression of him, but he’s a much more interesting character the way Cleary wrote him. Hartley is, well, Hartley–good ol’ Hartley!–and Shelley’s wonderful reflections on life and love at the end of the novel put honest-to-goodness tears in my no-longer-adolescent eyes. I even laughed more this time around!

5 Stars for Jean and Johnny
Ah! Young people listening to records and tuning in to their favorite television and radio “programs,” drive-in restaurants with carhops serving Cokes, folks with telephone numbers like “Toyon 1-4343,” and teenaged boys saying things like, “Gosh, that would be swell!” and meaning it.

Such fun to return to this old-fashioned, cozy, slightly heartbreaking, relatable, sweet story, since I understand it better this time and have a greater appreciation for Jean’s gradual maturation through the novel. She grows in a much more satisfying way than I remembered. Plus, I don’t know if I realized it years ago, but there’s actually an Asian girl in this book, incorporated into the minor cast of students just like the rest of ’em, but with a clearly different name and a distinct look to her in one of the illustrations.

And, speaking of the illustrations–the darling illustrations! My reading time probably doubled just taking extra moments to study and enjoy all of the fitting and amusing details in the pictures. Wonderful!

4 Stars for Fifteen
Oh, it seems that, compared to Jean and Shelley, Jane here in Fifteen is flimsier, more internally whiny. And this may be the flattest, perhaps the most juvenile, of Cleary’s YA romances. Could be because it’s the first, or at least was the first published.

Still, I found the novel to be charming on the whole, and it got better as Jane finally began to “learn her lesson,” as these young heroines of Cleary’s inevitably must. Gee, such an experience rereading books like this as an adult!

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These are the paperback editions I read years ago. At the time, I was unaware that there’s another First Love novel by Cleary, Sister of the Bride.

the-luckiest-girl jean-and-johnny fifteen