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from Ramona the Pest

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By Elena

A photo of Elena Bowes in a playground dressed up as Ramona the Pest

Growing up, I loved Ramona. She was so exuberant and spunky; full of beans.

Her older sister, Beezus, called her a pest, but I knew she wasn’t one, at least not on purpose. Ramona was just insatiably curious, like me. (My nickname used to be Nosey Bowes).

Ramona asked all the questions kids wanted to know, like how Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom in the book Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. The book never explains. Poor Mike.

As a kindergartner, Ramona did all the things I wanted to do, like pull on humorless Susan’s boing-boing curls, or chase skinny Davy around the playground trying to kiss him, or splash in muddy puddles in her bright red rain-boots. Ramona made me laugh. She often got confused, into trouble or frightened, all of which I could relate to.

There’s a story about how excited Ramona is for Halloween. She can’t wait to be the ‘ Baddest Witch in the World’, but then gets scared when no one recognizes that underneath the scary mask is little Ramona. I had a similar experience. I was a really scary owl and burst into tears when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I ended up staying home that Halloween and was sweet ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ from then on.

Like Ramona, I too wanted to be the teacher’s pet, especially my very pretty and warm Kindergarten teacher, Miss Reddinger’s. So when Ramona tries really hard to be good so that her teacher Miss Binney loves her (like snoring loudly during nap time to prove she’s an excellent rester), I knew exactly how Ramona felt. By the way, I think Miss Binney does have a soft spot for Ramona.

I could also relate to all the teasing Ramona gets from her older sister Beezus and Beezus’ friends. Being the youngest of three sisters, I was always getting laughed at. It was very frustrating and unfair so Ramona’s frequent temper tantrums made perfect sense to me. I liked knowing other little girls faced the same challenges I faced and overcame them through sheer force of character. I knew Ramona would have been my very best friend if she’d been a real person.

The 26 writing group has worked with The Story Museum as part of its 26 Characters exhibition. The group have produced a collection of poems, and couldn’t resist being part of the gallery of favourite characters.

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