Dog and Slippers

Ribsy (Henry-Ramona #8)
Ribsy is the final book in the Henry Huggins/Ramona Quimbyverse to focus on the Huggins family. But rather than turn the spotlight on Henry, as the title implies, this book is all about his dog, Ribsy. As the story opens, the Huggins family are setting off on a trip to a large shopping center in their new car. Mrs. Huggins is reluctant to allow Ribsy the opportunity to mess up the new car, but the family eventually ends up bringing him along. While they’re shopping, Ribsy escapes the car and eventually ends up quite some distance away from home. His efforts to get back to Henry fill the rest of the book. I think Cleary here shows she has as deft a hand with animals as she has with small children. Just like she was able to bring Ramona to life as a believable and interesting five year old, she’s able to convey Ribsy’s confusion and desires without anthropomorphizing him to the point where he’s no longer behaving like a dog. On the other hand, this was rather an odd departure for a series that otherwise focuses entirely on the lives and adventures of children.

Ramona the Brave (Henry-Ramona #9)
We delve more deeply into the life of the Quimby family as we return to them in Ramona the Brave. The action of this book takes place over the end of summer vacation and the first couple of months of Ramona’s first grade year. She deals with a less than ideal teacher, the turmoil of home renovations, her mother returning to work, getting her own bedroom, and clashes with her classmates. Ramona remains an interesting and engaging character even as she starts to mature a bit and become more aware of her own less than admirable impulses. As I reread these books, it’s interesting to me which scenes have stayed with me, which ones I hadn’t realized I’d forgotten, and which ones I have no memory of. There’s an incident in this book where Ramona makes a slipper out of brown paper towels and a stapler which I had completely forgotten until I began reading it again, at which point it came rushing back. And yet the part about them remodeling the house — it was as new.

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