The play opens with an invitation of friend- ship as Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby, elder sister of Ramona, delivers a brief introduction of her family, friends and neighborhood to the audience. Beezus is frequently interrupt by her “pesky” younger sister in her presentations. The audience is welcomed with open arms into the life of the Quimby family. Beezus and Ramona trade casual insults as they introduce friends and family, and quarrel over which recent events are important enough to share with their new friends, the audi- ence. Ramona attempts to usurp Beezus’ position of narrator, but she is reprimanded gently by her mother before rushing off to her first day of third grade.
Ramona’s classmates, Howie and Susan, congregate at Glenwood School. Susan has just enough time to show off her expensive doll named Tiffany before the third grade teacher, Mrs. Griggs, takes control of the class. After explaining that “fun is not allowed in this classroom,” Beezus appears for a moment, narrating that she forgot to inform Ramona that the first day of third grade is always Show-and-Tell in Mrs. Griggs’ class. The next moment, the announcement is made. Ramona realizes that she is unprepared and franti- cally begins turning out pockets to find something suitable to show. Howie and Susan show their toys, with Susan’s impeccably dressed doll as the main attraction, and Ramona makes do with a shabby old doll named Chevrolet. Mrs. Griggs insists her overactive imagination will get her into trouble someday.
After Ramona returns from school, we find her making mischief at home as well. Beezus was attempting to make dinner for their Aunt Bea, but Ramona sabotaged her lasagna: she hid her doll in the dish because Beezus wouldn’t accept her help in the kitchen. A volley of tears, insults and sibling rivalry is brought to a halt only when Aunt Bea arrives, carrying a bagful of Whopperburger dinners for the whole Quimby family. Ramona is still upset, however, and she tearfully confesses she’s a horrible girl because she hates her sister. The adults assure her that all siblings have times when they don’t love each other, thinking of the spiteful sister dynamic that existed between Aunt
Bea and Mrs. Quimby when they were children. Beezus is relieved that someone like Ramona can grow up to be as wonderful as Aunt Bea, and the crisis is suspended.
The scene shifts to another day with Ramona at school, this time making masks for the annual Halloween parade. Ramona, bright and imaginative as usual, is busily crafting a scary owl mask, but Susan begins copying Ramona’s mask. When Susan is given credit for the idea and Ramona is accused of cheating, Ramona cannot control her temper and rips up Susan’s mask. After refusing to apologize, Ramona is sent home in a frustrated sulk.
While Ramona dramatically decides she has no future and that nobody understands her, she meets Howie’s teasing uncle, Hobart. Hobart has recently returned from Saudi Arabia after striking oil and becoming rich, and Ramona is excited to meet a millionaire. But she is disappointed and upset to find the real Hobart is a jokester who enjoys singing songs specifically tailored to embar- rass Ramona. Hobart is very excited to learn that Bea is Ramona’s aunt, as they were very good friends back in high school. Disenchanted with the idea of an adult who teases like a child, Ramona informs a nonplussed Hobart that Bea moved to Los Angeles “just yesterday.” Hobart is thrilled with the prospect of seeing Bea, and Ramona is even more irritated.
Brewing with resentment and ill feeling, Ramona stalks home to find her parents waiting to talk to her about the day’s events at school. After explaining the circumstances, Mr. and Mrs. Quimby remain adamant that she must apologize, and that she certainly must return to school. They explain to her that Susan is the one she should feel sorry for, because she doesn’t have much imagination of her own. With promises of Whopperburger and reassurances that she’s been missed at school, Ramona agrees to apologize for smashing Susan’s owl, which she does the next day.
At this point, the Quimby family’s life takes an unexpected turn. Mr. Quimby loses his job and leaves the family without a stream of income. The family gathers for a meeting to discuss how
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