As a life-long bookworm who still remembers the pleasure of reading Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest along with my mom, I’ve been rediscovering Ramona with my six- and seven-year-old daughters over the last month. We’ve spent nearly every bedtime with Ramona, beginning with Beezus and Ramona (originally published in 1955) and now wrapping up with Ramona’s World, published within the last decade. As a child, I loved experiencing the world through the eyes of this spunky, strong-willed little girl; now I’m glad for my daughters to see spunkiness modeled in another child while I appreciate the struggles—and occasional failings—of Cleary’s adults (parents argue, teachers occasionally act with colossal unfairness, Ramona’s mother tiredly balances work with children’s sick days). I enjoy and learn as much from Ramona now as I did three decades ago.
On my own I’m reading Jeff Benedict’s Little Pink House about the landmark Supreme Court case, Kelo v. the City of New London. The nonfiction account of how Susette Kelo fought efforts to seize her home through eminent domain touches on several of my favorite themes in literature and life: strong women, the importance of neighborhood preservation, and the political power a small group of organized people can sometimes wield against moneyed interests.