Ramona Quimby Age 8 Summary

Beverly Cleary

Ramona Quimby Age 8

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Ramona Quimby Age 8 Summary

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Children’s author Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby, Age 8, is the sixth novel of the classic Ramona series. There are eight books in total, and they were published between 1955 and 1999. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 was a Newbery Honor Book in 1982, a year after its initial publication in 1981. The Ramona series follow a humorous, adventurous young girl named Ramona Quimby from kindergarten to eighth grade. Themes specific to Ramona Quimby, Age 8 are the importance of independence, perseverance through financial hardship, and maintaining dignity in the face of opposition. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 is written in the third person from Ramona’s perspective.
The book opens to Ramona’s family sitting at the breakfast table. She’s bragging to her sister about being trusted enough to travel to school on the bus by herself; after all, she’s just  turned eight and is starting third grade. Beatrice, whom Ramona nicknames Beezus, ignores her, as she’s about to start high school (though Ramona reveals this is really junior high). Their father, Mr. Quimby, jokes that he has all of them beat as he’s going back to college to be an art teacher. Mrs. Quimby says the joke is on all of them if they don’t eat fast and get to school; besides, she has to get to work as a receptionist at a doctor’s office, a job she accepted after Mr. Quimby was laid off from his job at Pacific Gas and Electric. Ramona is going to a brand-new school where she happens to be the oldest in her class; she enjoys the feeling of being the biggest kid on campus. The new school looks promising until a boy on the bus takes her eraser. They fight, and Ramona eventually wins her eraser back. She nicknames the boy the “Yard Ape,” for his habit of sitting at the back of the bus and moping around the schoolyard. Initially enemies, the two eventually bond; Yard Ape is pretty funny in his own right, and he complements Ramona’s rambunctious sense of humor.

Ramona likes her new teacher, Mrs. Whaley; she especially loves the introduction of Sustained Silent Reading. She likes that she and her classmates are now old enough to read for themselves. The only problem is that Ramona isn’t entirely sure if Mrs. Whaley likes her; in fact, as the days progress, it seems like Mrs. Whaley may downright hate Ramona. She doesn’t laugh at her antics the way former teachers did. When Ramona cracks a hardboiled egg on her head at lunch, she quickly realizes that her mother accidentally gave her a raw egg, and it pours all over her head. She is sent to the principal’s office for causing a scene. While waiting on a chair with her hair full of raw egg, she overhears Mrs. Whaley describe her as “a show-off and a nuisance.” Ramona struggles to show the adults that she really can take care of herself.

She encounters another obstacle to this goal when she throws up in the middle of class, to the disgust of Mrs. Whaley, and to the great inconvenience of her mother, who now has to leave work. After school, home life isn’t exactly easy. Ramona has to take care of Howard “Howie” Kemp’s younger sister, Willa Jean, who is around pre-school age. The Kemp family lives next door. Howie is her curly-red haired neighbor. He’s her age, and very literal, while Ramona is imaginative. Ramona quickly comes to resent Howie for shoving the care of Willa Jean on to her. While she has to play silly games like “Uncle Rat” with a four-year-old, Howie gets to ride his bike outside with friends. She’s also holed up with Howie’s irascible grandmother, who blames her anytime Willa Jean doesn’t act appropriately. One day, Willa Jean breaks the accordion that her rich uncle, Hobart, gave her as a present. Mrs. Kemp is furious, and says Ramona was responsible for ensuring the safety of the accordion. She is banned from babysitting Willa Jean ever again, which is a curse (she needs the money and the responsibility) and a blessing (she looks forward to being away from Willa Jean).

Once her parents return from college and work, respectively, Ramona heads back home. There, she witnesses a fair amount of stress. Her parents discuss the challenges of the doctor’s office and the college. It’s particularly stressful living off of Mrs. Quimby’s salary, which is not as much as Mr. Quimby’s salary as the electric company. To keep the family afloat financially, Mr. Quimby works the night shift at the grocery store, stocking shelves. The family is still stressed about money. When their car stops working, it’s a grueling ordeal for the Quimbys.

Ramona uses humor to try and relax everyone. Sometimes she wishes she could just escape from her family. Unlike her older sister, who frequently claims she has homework, Ramona is too young to have a large amount of homework that would occupy her time at home. But Ramona, like all the Quimbys, perseveres through the difficult year. The book concludes with the family celebrating their success by going out for dinner. An older man, feeling generous, ends up paying for their entire meal. This kind gesture gives hope to the entire family.