The 1985 Buckeye Children's Book Award Winner for grades 3-5 was Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary. This year marks the first year that 3-5 and 6-8 are separated into separate categories. This also happens to be the year I was born. :)
Ramona is entering 3rd grade at a new school and is thrilled. Her family is going through some changes as her dad quits his job to go back to school, and she feels constantly compared to her older "perfect" sister Beezus, but she is trying her best to be a grown up and to do the right thing. She struggles, though, in dealing with teasing from a classmate, getting along with a friend's younger sister, and her biggest problem of all -- her teacher.
Ramona's struggles are realistic and universal, so I can see why it was chosen as 1985's favorite. At one point, she has to make dinner with her sister, and the whole process is hilarious and sympathy-inducing. Later on, poor Ramona throws up in front of the whole class, which is something I think all kids fear, and Ramona's embarrassment is easy to understand. While there are a lot of words that are a bit difficult for most 3-4th graders to know in the story, Ramona's thoughts and feelings are extremely relatable to any child. She's still self-centered enough, as most kids are, to make most things about her but she's also at that age where she's becoming more aware of others and her surroundings, and how not everything is about her.
New to me is the artwork, which the original story did not contain when I read it the first time as a kid. It was a nice addition, though, and I can see kids being more drawn to the book because of the illustrations.
Overall, the book is wonderful (as is the whole series). It even won a Newbery Honor. While the book wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as the Fudge books, it still has a nice mix of humor with realistic problems.
On a side note, I really enjoyed Ramona's take on Sustained Silent Reading (or D.E.A.R.). I'm always a fan of "read what you want without having to do a book report" reading and I liked seeing this portrayed positively as well. It also brought back memories of my own D.E.A.R. time reading in school.
Did you ever read any of the Ramona books, Jill? What is next on your BBA Challenge list?
Please join us in our reading challenge! We welcome anyone at any time! :)