10 Facts About Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Books

Ramona Quimby—the protagonist of Beverly Cleary’s popular series of children's novels—has a knack for getting into trouble, whether it’s dropping out of kindergarten, squeezing a tube of toothpaste down a sink, or cracking a hard-boiled egg on her head to show off (only to find her mom forgot to boil it). While her older sister Beezus calls her a “pest,” Ramona’s imaginative and lively nature is why readers still love her all these years later.

1. Ramona Was An Accidental Character

Beezus and Ramona appeared as minor characters in Cleary’s first novel, Henry Huggins (1950). Cleary tossed Ramona into the book because she realized none of her characters had siblings. When she went to add a female friend for Henry, she included a little sister to explain Beezus’s nickname. Ramona couldn’t pronounce her real name, Beatrice, so now everyone called her Beezus.

As for the little sister’s name, Cleary overheard a neighbor outside calling to someone named Ramona and promptly put the name in the book.

2. Ramona Surprised Cleary By Sticking Around

Originally, Ramona was “just a little brat in Henry Huggins,” intended for one brief scene, but Cleary found she kept having new ideas for the character. In 1955, she wrote Beezus and Ramona, the only book in the series from Beezus’s point of view. In 1968, Cleary wrote Ramona the Pest and went on to write six more Ramona books during the 1970s and 1980s. They sold well and Ramona soon became Cleary’s most popular character.

3. Ramona Is Based On A Girl Eating Butter

Ramona was inspired by a childhood memory. One day, Cleary saw a neighbor girl walking home from the store. "She had been sent to the neighborhood store for a pound of butter," Cleary said. "In those days, it was all in one piece, not in cubes. And she had opened the butter and was eating it."

Cleary may have thrown a bit of herself into Ramona as well. In 1995, she said that, as a child, “I was very much like Ramona when I lived on the farm and was wild and free.” When she got older and moved to Portland, a bad teacher “turned me into Ellen Tebbits, a rather anxious little girl." In another interview, she added, "But I had Ramona-like thoughts!"

4. Cleary Wrote Her Books “Very Messily.”

Cleary approached writing in an intuitive way. She explained:

“I usually start with a couple of ideas, not necessarily at the beginning of the book, and I just write. Sometimes I have to go back and figure out how a character got to a particular point. In Ramona and Her Father, … I was asked to write a Christmas story about Ramona for one of the women’s magazines. I did this, and called it 'Ramona and the Three Wise Persons.' But in writing this story, I was thinking how Ramona got to the point where she was wearing a sheep costume made from old pajamas. So after that story was published, I wrote how she got to that point. So in this case, I wrote the last chapter first. Of course this is against everything people are taught about writing, but I don’t believe that outlining works for fiction because if you have it all worked out, it becomes boring.”

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5. Klickitat Street Is A Real Place

Ramona and the rest of the characters live on Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon, just a few blocks from Cleary's childhood home on NE 37th Street. Cleary chose the name Klickitat because it reminded her of the sound of knitting needles. Today, you can visit the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden on Klickitat Street, which has statues of Ramona, Henry, and Henry's dog, Ribsy.

6. Cleary Wrote For Real Children

One day when Cleary was working as a children’s librarian in Yakima, Washington, a group of boys asked her, “Where are the books about kids like us?” Cleary found she couldn’t answer them. What’s more, she remembered feeling the same way as a child. “I longed for funny stories about the sort of children who lived in my neighborhood,” Cleary wrote in her memoir My Own Two Feet. Soon after, she decided to try her hand at writing for and about real children.

7. Her Characters Deal With Real Issues

Cleary set a new benchmark for realistic children’s fiction. Ramona has a complex personality with good and bad traits that change as she matures. She’s emotional, and sometimes feels afraid, jealous, or neglected. Her emotional life drives her behavior, and leads to conflict.

On top of that, the Ramona books deal with real-life issues. Ramona’s dad loses his job and the family struggles financially. Her parents fight about money, which makes Beezus and Ramona worry they’ll get divorced. The cat Picky-Picky dies and Ramona and Beezus bury her in the backyard before their parents get home. These darker issues not only stuck with readers, they influenced children’s literature overall.

8. There Was A 1988 TV Show Called Ramona

The 10-episode TV show starred Sarah Polley as Ramona. Here’s the intro:

9. Until Recently, Cleary Insisted On Script Approval Of Movies

For years, Cleary turned down deals for full-length Ramona movies because she wanted script approval, feeling that she knew her characters better than a screenwriter. However, in 2010, Ramona and Beezus came out starring Selena Gomez as Beezus and Joey King as Ramona. Cleary seemed to like the movie. “Although there were scenes left out that I would have liked to see, on the whole I think it was a movie that parents could take their children to without worry," she said.

10. The Last Ramona Book Was Published In 1999

Ramona’s World came out in 1999 after a 15-year wait. Now almost 100, Cleary is retired and so we won’t be seeing another Ramona book. But Cleary thinks Ramona will “be all right” when she grows up.

"She'll do something creative. She liked to draw because her father liked to draw. Children often live out their parents' frustrations. But I don't know. I'd have to write the book to find out."

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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America's Top 25 Colleges and Universities for 2021

Harvard University's Memorial Hall.
Harvard University's Memorial Hall.

Deciding what makes a certain college more desirable than another is highly subjective. Some prospective students might think a championship-winning football team and a massive student body are major selling points, while others prize a small, tightly knit community above all else.

To try to come as close as possible to identifying objectively great colleges and universities around the country, WalletHub analyzed a whopping 30 factors in seven categories, from student selectivity and cost to campus experience and career outcomes. These encompass basic metrics—admissions rate and average class size, for example—as well as more specific considerations, like study abroad programs, on-campus employment opportunities, and the median salaries of recent graduates.

Of all 1008 schools included in the study, the Ivy League ones continue to reign supreme. Harvard University ranked first, with a score of 78.6 across all 30 metrics, edging out Yale by just .03 points. Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Brown also made the top 25. With low acceptance rates and high graduation rates—not to mention huge endowments—these stately old institutions are rather difficult to compete with, but they’re definitely not the only esteemed places to get a four-year education.

As a testament to the continuing success of the tech industry, three technology institutes made WalletHub’s list: Massachusetts in third place, California in fifth, and Georgia in 11th. Those three schools ranked in the top five for return on educational investment, meaning that graduates make high starting salaries compared to how much their education actually cost.

Geographically, New England (and the East coast in general) is home to a majority of the top schools, though five from California alone did chart, too: Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; Pomona College; and Claremont McKenna College, in addition to the aforementioned California Institute of Technology.

Check out the top 25 below, and see where your alma mater ranks on WalletHub’s full list here.

  1. Harvard University // 78.6
  1. Yale University // 78.57
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology // 78.44
  1. Princeton University // 78.41
  1. California Institute of Technology // 77.65
  1. Stanford University // 77.12
  1. Rice University // 76.96
  1. Northwestern University // 75.4
  1. Duke University // 75.18
  1. University of Pennsylvania // 74.95
  1. Georgia Institute of Technology // 74.92
  1. Vanderbilt University // 74.66
  1. University of California, Berkeley // 74.54
  1. Columbia University // 74.51
  1. Johns Hopkins University // 74.37
  1. University of Chicago // 73.59
  1. Dartmouth College // 73.43
  1. Williams College // 73.19
  1. Brown University // 73.17
  1. Carnegie Mellon University // 73.11
  1. Washington and Lee University // 73.08
  1. Swarthmore College // 73.08
  1. Pomona College // 72.92
  1. Claremont McKenna College // 72.84
  1. Amherst College // 72.83