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One rainy Saturday afternoon, Ramona Quimby and her big sister Beezus heard their mother laughing in the hall. Because the hall seemed a strange place for laughing, they investigated and found Mrs. Quimby, surrounded by boxes, sitting on the floor in front of the open linen closet. She was reading a book about the size of a postcard.
"What's so funny?" The sisters wanted to share the fun, whatever it was.
"I was cleaning out the mess in the linen closet when I ran across the diary I kept when I was about Ramona's age." Mrs. Quimby turned a page and laughed again.
"Oh, Mother, let us read it," pleaded Beezus.
"Diaries are supposed to be private," said Mrs. Quimby, "so you can write down your secret thoughts as well as things that happened."
"Oh, please," begged Ramona. "Pretty please with sugar on it."
"We'll all read it." Mrs. Quimby rose from the floor and stepped over boxes.
"Daddy!" Ramona called to her father, who was replacing faucet washers in the bathroom. "Come quick! Mother's going to read her diary."
The girls settled themselves on either side of their mother on the living room couch. Mr. Quimby, who remarked that a diary was sure to be more interesting than faucet washers, sat in his usual chair.
Mrs. Quimby opened the little book, which had three dates on each page with three lines for each date. Her third-grade school picture was pasted inside the front cover."Mother!" Ramona was filled with glee. "You didn't comb your hair." She would remember this and remind her mother when she was told to comb her own hair.
"'January first,'" read Mrs. Quimby. "'Today itrained. We had chicken for dinner.'"
"That's not very exciting." Ramona was disappointed.
"It gets better later on," her mother told her. "Besides, three lines a day didn't leave much room for excitement. 'January second. No school. I read a Little House book. I liked it very muck.'"
"Muck!" The girls, reading along with their mother, found her spelling hilarious. "I can spell better than that," boasted Ramona.
I used to mix up h and k. " Mrs. Quimby read on. "'January third. I went over to Linda's house after school. Green is our favert color and whipped dream our favert food. We hate turnips. We are best friends.'" She had written small, to squeeze all this on the three lines allowed for each date.
"F-a-v-e-r-t for favorite," said Beezus. "You were a terrible speller."
"I improved with age," said Mrs. Quimby. "After all, what you say in a diary is more important than how you spell it--not that you shouldn't try to spell correctly. 'January fourth. Linda came over to my house. We blew bubbles.'"
"You got 'blew' right," remarked Ramona. "You could have spelled it like the color."
"'January fifth,'" read Mrs. Quimby. "'Bobby J. bit my eraser in two.'"
"Keep your eye on Bobby J.," remarked Mr. Quimby. "Biting a girl's eraser in two is a sure sign of love. "
"Oh, Daddy," Ramona giggled. "It is not."
Mrs. Quimby continued. "'January sixth. Linda and I both had egg sandwiches in our lunches. Linda had a jelly doenut. She gave it to Bobby J. I wish I could have jelly doenuts in my lunch.'"
"Poor Mom," said Beezus, and giggled.
"'January seventh. Sadderday. I had to go shopping with Mother. I was bored. I hate shopping.'"
"So do I," said Ramona.
"I like the way you spelled Saturday," said Beezus. "Saturday is a day when something nice should happen. When it doesn't, it seems like a sadder day."
"Today isn't a sadder day," said Ramona. "Mother's diary is happening."
Mrs. Quimby went on. "'January eighth. Nothing happened. January ninth. Linda gave Bobby J. another jelly doenut. Bobby J. printed a big Lon his hand. Linda and I aren't best friends anymore.'"
"Why weren't you and Linda best friends anymore?" asked Ramona.
"Because I wanted my initial on Bobby J.'s hand, and all I had to offer were carrot sticks," her mother explained.
"That was before your mother met me," said Mr. Quimby.
"Daddy, she was just a little girl." All the same, Ramona was indignant. "I don't think Bobby J. was very nice. Besides, carrot sticks are better for you than jelly doughnuts."
After the entries about Linda and Bobby J., "Nothing happened" was recorded day after day. Then in March, printed across the lines for three days, were the words, "Bea! You Keep Out!"
"Did Aunt Bea really snoop in your diary?" asked Beezus.
"I don't think so," answered Mrs. Quimby. "I was just trying to fill up space. Or maybe I was mad at her about something else."
"Then you should have written it down so you would know," said Ramona.
On her birthday, Mrs. Quimby had listed her presents. In July, her mosquito bites itched. In August, she wrote about going on a family picnic, falling in a stream, and having to sit in the car wrapped in a blanket until her clothes dried. "'I was mad,'" Mrs. Quimby read. "'Everybody laughed at me. Bea laughed, too. I am mad at Bea.'"That entry had taken space meant for three days. "I had to let off steam," explained Mrs. Quimby. "Diaries are good for that." Her Christmas presents filled up December 25, 26, and 27. That was all.
"But Mother, something more must have happened to you that year," said Beezus. "Why didn't you write it down?"
"It was hard for me to write small enough to fit such little lines, and the diary wouldn't open flat for easy writing," explained Mrs. Quimby. "And I didn't know that someday I would have children who would be interested.The Ramona Quimby Diary. Copyright � by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.