RAMONA AND HER MOTHER
Cleary's sociology lags behind her child psychology when she has Ramona's average-American family celebrating, after several months of her father's unemployment, his finding a job as supermarket cashier--in our experience, a near-minimum-wage spot usually filled by 18-year-olds and part-time housewives. Anyway, Mr. Quimby hates his job, especially on Wednesdays when new produce prices must be learned, and by the end he's decided to return to college and prepare for a better one (perhaps demanding less arithmetic?). Meanwhile, with Cleary's pipeline to childhood as faithful as ever, second-grader Ramona struggles for recognition, fuming when a guest remarks that a pesty four-year-old neighbor is "Ramona all over again," bristling when her mother announces at the celebration party that she "couldn't get along without" older sister Beezus, and--when finally reassured by her loving family--viewing as ridiculous her own childish behavior of just the day before. Ramona's friends will be gratified to see her coming along, and even her lapses remain endearing.