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Ramona and Her Mother
Cover of Ramona and Her Mother.jpg
First edition
Author Beverly Cleary
Illustrator Alan Tiegreen
Country United States
Language English
Series Ramona
Genre Children's novel
Publisher William Morrow
Publication date
Media type Print (paperback) hardback
Pages 190 pp
Preceded by Ramona and Her Father 
Followed by Ramona Quimby, Age 8 

Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary is the fifth book of the popular Ramona series. Mr. Quimby has found another job, though it is one he does not like very much. Ramona finds herself caught between being too young to stay home alone and too old to enjoy playing with pesky Willa Jean. She is trying to grow up, but sometimes it seems like her family is making it harder. Ramona and Her Mother won the 1981 National Book Award.

Plot summary

"People should not think being seven and a half years old was easy, because it wasn't." At last, Ramona's father, Robert, has a job again, so the Quimbys host a brunch to celebrate. Ramona is burdened with the task of keeping her friend Howie Kemp's little sister, Willa Jean, out of everybody's way. Not wanting Willa Jean to touch any of her toys, Ramona gives Willa Jean a pop-up box of tissues to play with. When Willa Jean strews tissues through the house, the guests decide to take their leave. When someone remarks that Ramona was just like Willa Jean when she was younger, Ramona feels hurt and upset, not believing that she was ever such an exasperating spoiled pest. When Dorothy states that she could not get along without Beezus, Ramona feels isolated and unappreciated by her family.

Now that both Dorothy and Robert are working full-time, everyone must pitch in to keep the house running as smoothly as possible. One day, the family comes home to find that, in the rush to leave the house in the morning, the Crock-pot was not plugged in, forcing the family to improvise dinner from the sparse ingredients on hand. The preparation of said dinner causes an argument between Robert and Dorothy, which frightens the girls, who had never before seen such behavior from their parents. Suddenly worried that their parents might get a divorce like some of their respective classmates' parents have recently, Beezus and Ramona comfort each other that night at bedtime, and Beezus tells Ramona that she will always be there to look after her. The next morning, Beezus and Ramona are surprised to find their parents sitting at breakfast together, acting as if the argument never happened. Robert and Dorothy explain that marital spats are a part of life and do not necessarily foreshadow a divorce. When it is further indicated that Beezus and Ramona fight, Ramona feels that the comparison is unfair, and orders her parents to never fight again.

Tempers flare again when Beezus refuses to let Dorothy cut Beezus' hair. Dorothy normally cuts the girls' hair, but Beezus reveals that she has saved her allowance to get her hair cut at a local hairdressing academy. The battle of wills between Beezus and Dorothy makes Ramona happy, since she is still envious of their relationship. When the appointment goes wrong and Ramona ends up with a cute pixie haircut and Beezus gets a bad perm and ends up with "forty-year-old" hair, Ramona suddenly feels bad for Beezus and decides it is nicer when everyone in the family is happy.

Matters become complicated once more when Dorothy buys Ramona a new pair of pajamas, the first time Ramona has not received Beezus' hand-me-downs. Ramona loves her new pajamas so much that she wears them to school underneath her clothes. She finally admits this fact to her teacher, Mrs. Rudge, who promises Ramona that she will not reveal Ramona's secret to anybody. When Ramona overhears Dorothy's end of a phone conversation with Mrs. Rudge that night, however, she mistakenly assumes that Mrs. Rudge has betrayed her confidence. She becomes angry, argues with her parents, and decides to run away from home. Dorothy, to Ramona's shock, offers to help her pack a suitcase. Dorothy purposefully packs the suitcase so that it is too heavy for Ramona to carry, which turns out to be a ploy to get Ramona to stay. When Ramona realizes that she had been tricked, Dorothy says the words that Ramona had longed to hear since the day of the brunch and Willa Jean's tissue incident: "I couldn't get along without my Ramona."

Critical reaction

Reviewers appreciate Cleary's keen understanding of childhood. Kirkus writes "Cleary's pipeline to childhood as faithful as ever... Ramona's friends will be gratified to see her coming along, and even her lapses remain endearing." Alexandra Gomez of the New York Public Library, speaking of the Spanish translation of the book, says Ramona, "in her own inimitable and highly entertaining way, tries to understand the world around her and overcome the difficult situations in her life... In any language, children will relate to this winning heroine." Finally, another reviewer praises the author's humor and sensitivity. "In this amusing and heartwarming Ramona… Beverly Cleary continues her story of Ramona, the little girl who is always full of surprises. Growing up… can be difficult. Beverly Cleary addresses this issue with humor and sensitivity, helping children to understand that they are not alone when they feel left out."


Audio Formats: Ramona and Her Mother is available in cassette, CD and eAudiobook from Random House/Listening Library; VHS from Atlantis Films/Ramona Productions, 1987.

Print/English: Braille available from Dell, large print books through Professional Services Center for the Visually Handicapped, Wis. Dept. of Public Instruction, and e-Books through HarperCollins;

Print/Worldwide: As of 2010, 109 editions of Ramona and Her Mother had been published in 9 languages.

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