Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coming Attractions! Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

The re-introduction of another generation to Beverly Cleary's beloved characters Beezus and Ramona Quimby is the occasion for some celebration. Since the publication of the last book in the series, Ramona's World (Ramona Series) in 2001, all the titles in her classic series have remained popular, but the July 23 debut of this first feature-length film offers a wonderful opportunity to introduce a whole new group of young readers to the wonderful Quimbys, (first introduced in the 1950s with Beezus and Ramona), and their friends Henry Huggins, Howie Kemp, and even Aunt Bea and Howie's Uncle Hobart, whose romance brings the story to a memorable conclusion.

The film, as would be expected, features a rather prettified Quimby family, with celebrity singer Selena Gomez as Beezus, Joey King as Ramona, and even the popular Sandra Oh, from ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," as Ramona's teacher Mrs. Meacham. As the movie's trailer here shows, the film goes for broad slapstick and easy laughs, far less nuanced than the deft touches of humor which enliven Cleary's subtle but realistic writing.

Still, Walden Films has a decent track record in catching the mood and hitting the essential elements in the notable children's novels which they have made into film in the past, and in the runup to those hot summer days when any funny, G-rated film is going to look like a godsend for youngsters at loose ends, it's a good time to help those same kids delve into the wonders that are the work of Beverly Cleary. Boxed sets abound in the paperback market, making it easy and inexpensive to catch up a third generation of readers on the remarkable funny, warm and poignant portraits of family life in the books about her inimitable Henry Huggins and the quintessential big and little sister, Beezus and Ramona Quimby and their neighborhood.

Make 'em an offer they can't refuse. Read the books--and then we'll see the movie!

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