What is there to say, I am a 40-something professional man with kids who like to listen to light books while on the bus to work.
While on vacation and driving the length of California back up from San Diego I downloaded this book for my family to listen to as we drove the long slog of I5. What a great choice!!! My 5 year old daughter was engrossed by this story and did not speak a peep for 6 hours straight as we drove the last 400 miles from Northern Cali to Washington. My wife was also engrossed and for the first time on that vacation I was able to experience a bit of quiet, the whole family quietly listened to the antics of Ramona and enjoyed her little story.
About the story itself...I never read these books as a child so was unfamiliar with them when I started. Basically this series follows the growth of a precocious little girl, named Ramona, and all her little innocent escapades as she grows up. The first book starts with Ramona age 4 and each subsequent book she is a year older. (well.. at least so far, we have only gotten through 4 books) Nothing huge happens here, no monsters need defeating, no saving the world, just little Ramona trying to learn how to grow up and be a good person. Her trials are things like not being sure her kindergarten teacher likes her, or dealing with the fallout of a bad tantrum. They are small things, but they are told beautifully and I actually think my 5 (soon to be 6) year old daughter enjoyed them all the more because she could so well relate to the feelings (and trials) Ramona was having and experiencing. As adults, my wife and I found the stories endearing and funny as the exploits of Ramona are very familiar to anybody who has had (or has) young children. Ms. Channing’s performance is wonderful, and she really brings to life all the characters. I highly recommend this series for anybody with young children. One thing though, Ms. Cleary sometimes gives away (or almost) the secrets of things like Santa Claus/tooth fairy/etc... Early in this series Ramona loses a tooth and Ms. Cleary alludes to (but does not actually explicitly reveal) Daddy being the actual tooth fairy, that part takes about 2 min....you can easily see it coming and you may want to skip ahead if you want to make sure that you can preserve that little fiction.
OK...this is one of those books that adults are going to have to sit through. As an adult, this book is too simplistic and clearly geared to young children to really be enjoyable. That being said, it is not a torture to listen to it. My daughter on the other hand LOVED it, she talked about it all the time, and she even teased/reassured her younger sister that she was not so quite as "naughty" as the namesake of the book. Indeed, this is the first book that she "rated" herself...she literally told me how many stars I should rate this book when she saw me on the website.
One of the nice things about this book is that the chapters are nicely divided by "story", each chapter is a stand-alone little story about "my naughty little sister" and what she and her friends were up to. I think my daughter liked the book so much because these stories were simple, realistic, and (I suspect) possibly true. She is able to relate to the stories very well, and I think it made her feel better to realize that little sisters are the same the world over. I do recommend this book, and my daughter highly recommends it.
So I did not get to listen to this book as my 6 year old daughter finished it in one sitting. SHE wants to review it though so what follows is her words, I am merely the typist.
" I liked the book because I really like ghosts and because I liked the A.S.G. (Averagely Spooky Ghosts) and I liked the I.R.G. (Incredebly Revolting Ghost). I liked the song the I.R.G. sang when he was playin on the piano. The I.R.G. was really funny. I liked the A.S.G.'s name because it sounded neat. And I liked how the A.S.G. scared the mean sister."
(translation by Dad)
My daughter LOVED this book, it really caught her imagination and she is dying to get the second in the series. I could hear her laughing and squealing from her room the entire time she listened to the book. She thought the characters were really funny and she became quite invested in their lives and story. Note to parents: while in the end everything turned out well, there were points in the book that worked her imagination to the point that she got a little scared. The next night she said that she was too scared to sleep alone, but when I told her that if the book scared her that much she could not get the second...that ended that thought...but I do think that there were points in the book that were a little scary, so I suggest not letting young children listen to it at night. :)