Ramona Quimby is sure fourth grade will be the best year of her life, so far. She can show off her calluses from swinging on the rings in the park, sit across the aisle from the boy she calls Yard Ape, and enjoy her cheerful new teacher, Mrs. Meacham. Most exciting of all, Ramona has a new best friend, Daisy. Fourth grade doesn't turn out quite the way Ramona has hoped. Mrs. Meacham wants her to improve her spelling. Ramona also must be a good role model for her baby sister, Roberta. And Mrs. Quimby wants her to spend more time with, the super-perfect Susan. Fourth-grade life isn't always easy, but it's full of adventure, and at the end of it all- a zeroteenth birthday to celebrate!
Cleary's first Ramona novel in 15 years opens as this strong-willed heroine enters fourth grade, determined to find herself a best friend. A new girl at school named Daisy fits the bill perfectly and costars in two of the novel's liveliest scenes: she and Ramona vacuum Daisy's cat, and while the two play a game of make-believe in the attic, Ramona's legs break through the floor and dangle over the dining room table. Though the precocious nine-year-old is on relatively firm ground at school ("By the fourth grade she had learned to put up with teachers"), Ramona resents the emphasis that this year's teacher places on correct spelling, tries to tolerate the seemingly perfect Susan andAvery realisticallyAalternately feuds and flirts with classmate Danny (whom she calls Yard Ape because he "acted like an ape on the playground"). On the home front, Ramona stews over her mother's preoccupation with a new baby and rolls her eyes at how sister Beezus (now a high-schooler) tends to integrate her newly acquired French vocabulary into conversation. A couple minor subplots seem dated (e.g., Beezus takes dancing lessons from her father in preparation for her first boy-girl party, to which she wears a blouse with ruffles), but most of Ramona's triumphs and traumas are timeless and convincingly portrayed. "I am a potential grown-up," declares this spunky protagonist on her 10th birthday, proudly trotting out one of her challenge words in spelling. Fans will hope that Cleary has many more growing pains and pleasures in store for Ramona before this potential is realized. 100,000 first printing. Ages 8-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 24, 1999
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