Tonight in preparation for story time with the kids I was perusing our selection of picture books, feeling uninspired by any of the regulars. I realized that it had been a while since we had done that wonderful "chapter a night" thing. It's so fun to pick out a really delicious chapter book and read a bit to the kids every night. I remember the practice fondly from my childhood - I think my favorite ever was Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl. I have loved reading some of his others to my kids - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Wonderful. Well, I came upon Ellen Tibbets by Beverly Cleary and knew that was the one to start. Anything by Beverly is always a good pick. She has such a way with knowing kids. I remember reading all about Ramona, one of Mrs. Cleary's star characters, and being amazed to find out that Ramona felt just the same way about the world that I did.
So I get the kids into bed and flip open the cover, and what did I see? Mrs. Cleary's autograph. I have always remembered the day that my mom took us to a book store to meet her, and I remember standing in line and getting my book signed, but I had forgotten which book it was. Look, here's a picture of the day:
Don't I look just mortified? I was so embarrassed that my mom was taking pictures - but now, thank heavens that she did! So, there's Beverly Cleary, signing my copy of Ellen Tibbits, and do you know what she wrote? "To Rachel, who looks like Ramona." Can you believe that? The creator of one of my favorite characters of all time thought I looked like her. What an honor. At least, you'd think so. At the time, I, much like Ramona, was quite jealous of my older sister and was horrified that I reminded Mrs. Cleary of the dreaded little sister. I wanted to be the big sister, Beezus. (Nickname for Beatrice, for those of you as yet unaquainted with the Quimby family.) Anyway. In my fury and shame at being yet again placed on the "little sister" shelf, look at what I did:
Dreadful. And hilarious, I guess. A keepsake, for sure. I should probably frame the page along with the photo. But only after I finish reading the book to the kids! Well, dear Beverly, just so you know, I have always remembered the compliment you paid me that day and grew to appreciate my resemblance to your wonderfully awkward, getting-into-scrapes heroine. I even named myself "Quimby" after her when I had to come up with a camp nickname for a summer. You and Ramona are dearly loved by me and always will be.