I dove back into the Ramona books this summer and realized two things: 1) these books remain powerful to me to this day, and 2) these stories were healing medicine to me as a child. They gave me strength and hope and insight.
In this series, Ramona Quimby is a sensitive, creative child who wants to fit in but often gets in trouble. She misunderstands normal social cues, and her heart gets broken. She expresses her truth in the world and is often seen as silly or wrong or annoying. She seeks solace through her creativity. She marches to her own drum. As a kid, I could relate.
What I love about these books is that, through these stories, Beverly Clearly gently offers both sides of the equation. We can clearly see what a pest Ramona can be. We can also understand her motivations and marvel at the brilliance of her inner world. And we see her allies—sympathetic teachers, loving parents, an older sister who is sometimes frustrated but always deeply cares for Ramona.
I read these books over and over again as a child because I felt that in their tribute to Ramona, they were also celebrating me. They gave me an understanding to a world that often felt bewildering. They made me feel like everything could be all right. These books were magical to me, and I am so glad that I found them.