Things we didn't know about Ramona Quimby!
Portland, Oregon: the home to amazing music and artists, Portlandia and Ramona Quimby, age eight.
If that last bit didn’t ring a bell, Ramona Quimby is the adorable protagonist in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, and we have SO many fond memories of the little adventurer who so badly wanted to be a grown-up.
To commemorate Drop Everything and Read Day on April 12, Mental Floss is running a series on all our fave children’s authors we loved as kids, and they’re giving us some seriously sweet fun facts that we never knew before. And here’s a major one for lovers of Ramona: all of those places in the Ramona books were real. Yes, of course, Portland is a real place, but so are the streets and Ramona’s school, and various other famous scenes from our beloved childhood Cleary tales, as they’re based off Cleary’s own childhood—and you can head over to Portland and see them for yourself.
Obviously, streets like Klickitat Street, the street where Ramona lives, don’t exist. Not-so-obviously, the inspiration for the street, 37th Street in Portland, does! “Though Beverly Cleary herself grew up on 37th Street in Portland (just one of a few homes she lived in), she knew that her real street name wouldn’t grab imaginations the way Klickitat Street did, just a few streets over,” according to Mental Floss. So instead, she named it “Klickitat,” after the noise that knitting needles make, according to a 1995 New York Times article.
Another renamed-but-very-real place? Cedarhurst Elementary, Ramona’s school. But if you want to visit it, it’s not actually called that—it’s Laurelhurst, Cleary’s own elementary school.
Itching for more Quimby-isms? We were, so we did a little research of our own. What we learned basically made us want to drop everything and read Ramona all day.
Sarah Polley originally played Ramona in the 1980s series (which was da best!)
Now 36, Polley is a renowned actress and film director. . . but Ramona Quimby was one of her very first roles!
Drop Everything And Read Day is the same day as Cleary’s birthday. Yay!
And that’s not by accident: publisher Harper Collins chose it in her honor.
There is a statue of Ramona Quimby in Portland Oregon’s Grant Park. Aw!
There are also statues of several of Cleary’s other characters, like Ribsy the Dog and Henry Huggins.
Ramona’s character was inspired by a little girl eating butter in the street. Crazy but true.
Yeah, you read that right. When Cleary was creating the character Ramona, she thought of a little girl she saw one day who lived in the house behind hers. “She had been sent to the neighborhood store for a pound of butter,” Cleary told NPR. “In those days, it was all in one piece, not in cubes. And she had opened the butter and was eating it.”
Totally seems like something Ramona would do, doesn’t it?