Wednesday, August 02, 2006

RfP Wednesday: Kids' Books about Pests

I've decided for this Reading for Pleasure Wednesday to mine the vault that is my brain to talk about some books that I loved as a kid. I got the idea on Saturday, when I went to Borders and was browsing around and happened upon a copy of Ramona the Pest. This was one of the first "chapter books" I remember reading, and I absolutely loved it. I've got to say, I don't really remember much about it now. I just remember that I really liked Ramona, that I totally thought that she was misunderstood and that she wasn't really a pest. But while some of this was about identification - I think that kids at a certain point - usually at the point when they are called and define themselves as "big kids" and their parents tell them that their New Year's Resolution should be to "give up whining," not that this happened to me or anything - do begin to worry that they are "pests" - I think I also kind of envied the Ramona character, because she had a big sister who thought she was a pest. I was an only child, and I gravitated toward these books that had protagonists who had siblings - but usually siblings who found them pest-like. It wasn't until I was around 10 or 11 that I started reading what I'll call the "orphan" books, like The Witch of Blackbird Pond, the Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, or Jane Eyre. No, from about the age of three, beginning with The Poky Little Puppy, and moving right along to one of my all-time favorite books Who's a Pest? and then to books like the Ramona books and even the Little House books, I was really into books that featured pesky little siblings who were misunderstood and who, in the end, were heroic. So any way, for those of you with kids, maybe check some of these out if you aren't familiar with them. (Especially that Who's a Pest?. You just can't go wrong with a protagonist named Homer, sisters named Lolly, Polly, Molly, and Dolly, and a giant Bear. No, you cannot. And my little half-brother loved it when I got it for him, too, so it's not just a "girl book.")

Upcoming posts in the works for RfP Wednesday: I've got a Harry Potter post brewing, which promises to reveal my total insanity, but it may take a few weeks to get it where it needs to be. Also, I've started reading Londonstani by Gautam Malkani, and I really think it's brilliant, at least so far. Technically it could become a work-book, but as I'm not reading it as such right now, I think I may break my own rule. Also, I think I want to talk about it alongside Zadie Smith's On Beauty, which also technically could be a work book but will never be because I have real problems with it. But so anyway, those are things that are in the offing. And now I need to go and accomplish something other than blogging!


Repressed Librarian said...

The Ramona books were some of my first favorites as well. Thanks for sharing!

negativecapability said...

Did you read the Great Brain books? They're about a younger sibling who has an older brother who pulls swindles on people, so they kind of invert your "pest"-genre. And if you haven't, you should go find one now!

RLT said...

I don't remember any of my childhood books. I do remember going to the library, most often during the summer - where they would only let me have 3 books for 2 weeks. But I don't remember what any of those books were. Later, I remember having a librarian tell me I needed my parents’ permission to check out the stuff I wanted because I wasn't 16 yet. (That was in reference to a cool book about a cat burglar. I wish I could remember something else about it so I could find it again. For some reason, I think maybe he was French.)

Part of that may be because I grew up in such a rural area. There were no bookstores, so the only reading material we actually owned - aside from fairy tale books that were read to us when we were younger - were comic books, which were readily available at the drug store. Occasionally, I even read one of the educational ones - and enjoyed it. :)

Another part of it may be because of my age, the stuff my daughters had to read was so much better than anything I came across at the same age. I didn't like any of the stuff people thought I should, like the Bobbsey Twins or Black Beauty.

In fact, I rarely enjoyed any of the stuff people told me I should read - especially when I was in school. It has lately occurred to me that I was just being pigheaded. So now I have begun a journey of rediscovering the classics. God bless Project Gutenberg. :)

Dave Merkowitz said...

I'm going to second the Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald. I read them and reread them (probably too long as I was still making my way through them in 8th grade for the fourth time). One of the most fascinating aspects is that the Fitzgerald's were one of the few Catholics in late frontier era in Utah. Anyway, great books!

chutry said...

I was also a Great Brain book addict as a kid, reading them 4-5 times each, which must not be that uncommon. I get *tons* of hits from people who come across my blog entry on the books (and on people who've traveled to southern Utah to find the fictional town of Adenville described by Fitzgerald).

But, yeah, they do interesting work with the "pest" genre (although The Great Brain's status is pest is almost something to be admired). And of course Judy Blume's "Fudge" series (Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing and Superfudge) also play with the "pest" genre.

USJogger said...

Man, I thought for a moment that I wrote those words about Ramona the Pest. This was one of my all-time favorite kids books. I didn't even read all the rest of the Ramona books. I don't know why. But this one was it. Boing!

I had the pleasure of rereading it (and most of the other Ramona books) with my daughter a few years ago. Still loved it!

I liked the Great Brain, too. Did anyone else notice that at the end of every book, Fitzgerald tried to finish the story? He set it up so that the Great Brain would never, ever, ever get into trouble again. And then he wrote another sequel.

AAYOR said...

The Pokey Little Puppy is the first book that I remember! I also loved Ramona. [Remember when she wanted her dad to quit smoking and she made a sign that said "Nosmo King" and he said, (something like), "Who is this Mr. Nosmo?" I was JUST thinking about that the other day for some reason, and I bet it has been 25 years since Ive read those books... how random].