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Book Review

This humorous book is not in a series but is the fourth book in a collection of eight that feature Ramona Quimby as the main character. Written by Beverly Cleary, the Ramona Collection is published by HarperTrophy, which is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Ramona and Her Father is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Seven-year-old Ramona Quimby loves spending time with her dad. She looks forward to payday because he often brings her a present or takes the family out to eat. When Ramona's father loses his job, he suddenly can't afford these luxuries. They have leftovers for supper instead of dining out. Even Picky-picky, their cat, is served a discounted brand of canned food that he refuses to eat. Ramona hears her parents whispering and worries about what will happen without enough money to buy food and pay the bills. She crosses off the presents she has written on her Christmas list and instead wishes for a happy family.

To bring in extra money, Ramona's mother begins working full time in a doctor's office, leaving Ramona's father to take care of the housework and stay with the girls after school. At first Ramona thinks it will be fun to spend extra time with her dad, but he is too busy to play with her. When Ramona's father sees a boy singing on a television commercial, he says that boy must have earned a million dollars because the commercial plays so often. Ramona decides to save the family by starring in a television commercial and daydreams about the fancy cars and trips the family will take when she is famous.

Ramona is proud to be the only second-grader whose dad comes to school on teacher conference day. While he talks with Mrs. Rogers, Ramona makes a crown out of sticker burrs to wear as she practices her acting skills. Instead of praising her talent, Ramona's father spends the rest of the day untangling her hair and cutting out the sticker burrs. Realizing that Ramona is frustrated that she can't help the family by becoming a television star, her dad cheers her up by saying that although money is nice, he wouldn't trade her for a million dollars.

At Halloween, Ramona's father carves a fancy jack o' lantern, but Picky-picky is so hungry that he eats it one night after they have gone to bed. Ramona's older sister, Beezus, argues that their cat shouldn't have to eat cheap food when there is enough money for their father to buy cigarettes, which can kill him. The thought of her father dying frightens Ramona so she launches a campaign to help him stop smoking. She and Beezus create dozens of paper signs warning him about the dangers of smoking. They hide the signs among their father's belongings, but to their frustration, he pretends not to notice them and continues his bad habit.

Locked out of the house one day after school, Ramona is afraid that her father has left her because he is angry or that he has been in a terrible accident. When she learns that he has been waiting in line to pick up an unemployment check, she understands that he has worries of his own. Ramona tells her father that she wishes they could be a happy family, and he assures her that they already are.

Beezus must interview an elderly neighbor for a school report, and Ramona tags along. Together they meet with Mrs. Swink, a widow whose memories of childhood include making tin-can stilts. Inspired, Ramona and her friend Howie make stilts from coffee cans and string, and sing songs.

Just before Christmas, Ramona's father gets a job, and Beezus is invited to play the role of Mary in the church Christmas pageant. Feeling left out, Ramona volunteers to be a sheep, but since her mother works all day, she doesn't have time to sew a proper sheep costume. Ramona must wear a makeshift one fashioned from bunny pajamas. Ashamed of her costume, Ramona hides in the church basement and prays to God for help.

Moments before the pageant starts, a participant discovers Ramona and offers to put makeup on her nose so that she will look more like a sheep. Ramona is delighted and hopes that her parents will recognize her. When Ramona's father winks at her from the audience, she understands that they are not only proud of Beezus but of her as well.

Christian Beliefs

Ramona tells her mother about learning to make a joyful noise unto the Lord in Sunday school. Beezus is chosen to play the role of Mary in the Christmas pageant. Beezus looks so tenderly at the blanket that it seems to Ramona that baby Jesus could really be in her arms. During a rainstorm, Ramona looks at the clouds and realizes that above them is the same star that guided the wise men to Bethlehem. While hiding in the church basement, Ramona hopes that God is not too busy to notice her and asks Him to get her out of her predicament. The angels in the Christmas pageant sing, "Joy to the newborn King!"

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Ramona's father and mother are presented as the authority figures at home. They are fair and loving in their relationship with their children. Mrs. Russo and Mrs. Rogers, her teachers at church and school, are also figures of authority. They are balanced in their approach of caring for, teaching and disciplining their students.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at ThrivingFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

For additional parenting resources, download an issue of Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine published by Focus on the Family, at ThrivingFamily.com/magazine.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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