Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary is one of several books in a series following these characters. In this specific book, both sisters are young (age 9 and 4). I had previously read Ramona Quimby Age Eight, and I was fairly confident I would really like this book. Well, I was a little surprised when it was not one that I would recommend to many young readers. It turns out that this book was published in 1955, and some of the content is dated.
I found this book to be funny and charming at times, but what I kept focusing on was the behaviors of Beezus (the older sister) and how they contradicted some things I believe in. For example, Beezus says that little girls are supposed to be quiet and not make a fuss. She also says various other things about behaviors that are acceptable and unacceptable for young girls. The family dynamics were also not to my liking. The father was only mentioned when referencing his job or while eating dinner. However, Beezus mentioned her mother performing housework, cooking, and taking care of the children frequently. I think that in today's society, a lot of things have changed compared to when this book was written. I believe the story itself is good, but the details and various aspects of it are too dated. The siblings relationship led to the "story" within each chapter. Almost always Beezus was caring for Ramona when something would go wrong, and it would be up to Beezus to try and deal with it. This leads me to another little issue I had with the book. I understand that it used to be much more common for children to watch over their siblings, but I find it hard to believe that in today's society it would acceptable for a nine-year-old to take their four-year-old sibling on a walk to the library and to the park without an adult.
One aspect of this book I enjoyed was some of the word choice. The text offered more difficult words and would often follow with an example of what it was. In addition, some of the difficult words made appearances more than once. I think this would be pretty beneficial to readers that are trying to learn new words. Even if some of the language would not very commonly be seen today, the words clearly still exist and have meaning.
If one could put aside these issues with when the text was published, the story has a lot to offer readers. It was entertaining and light hearted. The chapters were separate stories/adventures. Therefore, it would be a nice transition for students from picture books into chapter books. I think I will try sticking to more recently published chapter books from now. Although this is a classic in my mind, newer literature may be more beneficial for me to explore.

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