Beverly Cleary 2021 Children39;s Author . Creator Of Ramona Quimby. Dies .
Beverly Cleary Beverly Cleary Dies … Of Author Quimby, , Children's Ramona Creator
Fri, 26 Mar 2021 15:00:00 -0700
I think children want to read about normal, everyday kids,
Cleary told NPR in 1999
I think children like to find themselves in books
Beverly Cleary was the author behind many beloved characters, including Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, and Beezus and Ramona Quimby (as well as Ribsy, Socks and Ralph S.
Terry Smith/Time hide caption
Children’s author Beverly Cleary died Thursday in Carmel, Calif., her publisher HarperCollins said.
She was 104 years old.
Cleary was the creator of some of the most authentic characters in children’s literature — Henry Huggins, Ralph S.
Mouse and the irascible Ramona Quimby.
Generations of readers tore around the playground, learned to write in cursive, rebelled against tuna fish sandwiches and acquired all the glorious scrapes and bruises of childhood right along with Ramona.
Cleary’s simple idea — to write about the kids in her own neighborhood — ensured that her books have never gone out of print.
“I think children want to read about normal, everyday kids.
That’s what I wanted to read about when I was growing up,” Cleary told NPR’s Linda Wertheimer in 1999.
“I wanted to read about the sort of boys and girls that I knew in my neighborhood and in my school.
And in my childhood, many years ago, children’s books seemed to be about English children, or pioneer children.
And that wasn’t what I wanted to read.
And I think children like to find themselves in books.”
Her writing style — clear, direct, uncomplicated — mirrored the author’s own trajectory.
Cleary was still a young girl when she decided to become a children’s book author.
By the 1940s she’d become a children’s librarian in Portland, Ore., and she remembered boys in particular would ask her: “Where are the books about kids like us?”
There weren’t any, so she sat down and wrote Henry Huggins, her first book about a regular little boy on Klickitat Street in Portland.
Henry Huggins was a hit upon first printing, but her readers wanted to hear more about the little girl who lived just up the street.
Ramona Quimby, the most famous of all of Cleary’s characters, was unforgettable.
Mischievous, spunky and a hater of spelling, Ramona would be the first to tell you she’s not a pest — no matter what anyone (especially her older sister Beezus) says.
In the opening chapter of Ramona the Pest, Ramona responds to her big sister:
“I’m not acting like a pest, I’m singing and skipping,” said Ramona, who had only recently learned to skip with both feet.
Ramona did not think she was a pest.
No matter what others said, she never thought she was a pest.
People who called her a pest were always bigger, so they could be unfair.
Cleary’s memories were cinematically detailed.
In her autobiography, A Girl From Yamhill, she wrote about clamping around on tin can stilts and yelling “pieface!” at the neighbor.
She was an only child, who grew up in Portland during the Depression and still remembered when her father lost his job.
“I was embarrassed,” she recalled.
“I didn’t know how to talk to my father.
I know he felt so terrible at that time that I just — I guess I felt equally terrible.
And I think adults sometimes don’t think about how children are feeling about the adult problems.”
Cleary used her crystal-clear recall to capture the tribulations of young children exquisitely in her books.
“I’m just lucky.
I do have very clear memories of childhood,” Cleary said.
“I find that many people don’t, but I’m just very fortunate.”
Barbara Lalicki, who edited the 1999 Ramona book, Ramona’s World, said Cleary steered the field of children’s writing away from fantasy and historical fiction.
She was a “pioneer,” Lalicki said, in this “rooted-in-reality kind of book for children.”
Cleary’s books racked up awards and were constantly reprinted and re-illustrated.
Librarians kept shelves devoted entirely to Cleary’s books, and teachers read the books aloud to their students.
For about 30 years — despite objections from publishers who wanted her focus on writing more books — Cleary answered all of her fan mail herself.
“I learned a lot from children’s letters,” Cleary said.
Henshaw came about because two different boys from different parts of the country asked me to write a book about a boy whose parents were divorced.
And so I wrote Dear Mr.
Henshaw, and it won the Newbery.”
Longtime children’s librarian Nancy Pearl remembers hearing “a wonderful, possibly apocryphal story” about Cleary going to speak to a class of second- or third-graders: “This little boy kept raising his hand, he had so much to ask her, and he said to her, ‘Mrs.
Cleary, I understand how you write your books.
But where do you get your paper?’ …
I think that’s how involved kids get in those books.”
I think deep down inside children are all the same.
They want two loving parents and they would prefer a house with a neighborhood they can play in.
They want teachers that they can like.
I don’t think children have changed that much.
It’s the world that has changed.
Even with all the modern-day distractions — video games, music, movies and more — Cleary believed kids would keep on reading.
“I don’t think anything takes the place of reading,” Cleary said in 2006.
In one letter, a little girl said that reading in her room by herself was “like having a little television set in your head.”
Decades after they were written, Cleary’s books still ring true for children.
“I think deep down inside children are all the same,” she said.
“They want two loving parents and they would prefer a house with a neighborhood they can play in.
They want teachers that they can like.
I don’t think children have changed that much.
It’s the world that has changed.”
And Beverly Cleary, with her honest, straight-talking heroes and heroines, certainly changed it for the better.
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Beverly Cleary Beverly Cleary
Fri, 26 Mar 2021 15:00:00 -0700
Beverly Cleary introduced the world to characters Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins who have enthralled generations of youngsters
NEW YORK — Beverly Cleary, the celebrated children’s author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins, has died.
She was 104.
Cleary’s publisher HarperCollins announced Friday that the author died Thursday in Northern California, where she had lived since the 1960s.
No cause of death was given.
Trained as a librarian, Cleary didn’t start writing books until her early 30s when she wrote “Henry Huggins,” published in 1950.
Children worldwide came to love the adventures of Huggins and neighbors Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby and her younger sister, Ramona.
They inhabit a down-home, wholesome setting on Klickitat Street — a real street in Portland, Oregon, the city where Cleary spent much of her youth.
Among the “Henry” titles were “Henry and Ribsy,” “Henry and the Paper Route” and “Henry and Beezus.”
Ramona, perhaps her best-known character, made her debut in “Henry Huggins” with only a brief mention.
“All the children appeared to be only children so I tossed in a little sister and she didn’t go away.
She kept appearing in every book,” she said in a March 2016 telephone interview from her California home.
Cleary herself was an only child and said the character wasn’t a mirror.
We are saddened to share that cherished children's book author Beverly Cleary passed away yesterday, March 25, at 104 years old.
“I was a well-behaved little girl, not that I wanted to be,” she said.
“At the age of Ramona, in those days, children played outside.
We played hopscotch and jump rope and I loved them and always had scraped knees.”
In all, there were eight books on Ramona between “Beezus and Ramona” in 1955 and “Ramona’s World” in 1999.
Others included “Ramona the Pest” and “Ramona and Her Father.” In 1981, “Ramona and Her Mother” won the National Book Award.
Cleary wasn’t writing recently because she said she felt “it’s important for writers to know when to quit.”
“I even got rid of my typewriter.
It was a nice one but I hate to type.
When I started writing I found that I was thinking more about my typing than what I was going to say, so I wrote it long hand,” she said in March 2016.
Although she put away her pen, Cleary re-released three of her most cherished books with three famous fans writing forewords for the new editions.
Actress Amy Poehler penned the front section of “Ramona Quimby, Age 8;” author Kate DiCamillo wrote the opening for “The Mouse and the Motorcycle;” and author Judy Blume wrote the foreword for “Henry Huggins.”
Cleary, a self-described “fuddy-duddy,” said there was a simple reason she began writing children’s books.
“As a librarian, children were always asking for books about `kids like us.′ Well, there weren’t any books about kids like them.
So when I sat down to write, I found myself writing about the sort of children I had grown up with,” Cleary said in a 1993 Associated Press interview.
Henshaw,” the touching story of a lonely boy who corresponds with a children’s book author, won the 1984 John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
It “came about because two different boys from different parts of the country asked me to write a book about a boy whose parents were divorced,” she told National Public Radio as she neared her 90th birthday.
“Ramona and Her Father” in 1978 and “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” in 1982 were named Newbery Honor Books.
Cleary ventured into fantasy with “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” and the sequels “Runaway Ralph” and “Ralph S.
Mouse.” “Socks,” about a cat’s struggle for acceptance when his owners have a baby, is told from the point of view of the pet himself.
She was named a Living Legend in 2000 by the Library of Congress.
In 2003, she was chosen as one of the winners of the National Medal of Arts and met President George W.
She is lauded in literary circles far and wide.
She produced two volumes of autobiography for young readers, “A Girl from Yamhill,” on her childhood, and “My Own Two Feet,” which tells the story of her college and young adult years up to the time of her first book.
“I seem to have grown up with an unusual memory.
People are astonished at the things I remember.
I think it comes from living in isolation on a farm the first six years of my life where my main activity was observing,” Cleary said.
Cleary was born Beverly Bunn on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon, and lived on a farm in Yamhill until her family moved to Portland when she was school-age.
She was a slow reader, which she blamed on illness and a mean-spirited first-grade teacher who disciplined her by snapping a steel-tipped pointer across the back of her hands.
“I had chicken pox, smallpox and tonsillitis in the first grade and nobody seemed to think that had anything to do with my reading trouble,” Cleary told the AP.
“I just got mad and rebellious.”
By sixth or seventh grade, “I decided that I was going to write children’s stories,” she said.
Cleary graduated from junior college in Ontario, California, and the University of California at Berkeley, where she met her husband, Clarence.
They married in 1940; Clarence Cleary died in 2004.
They were the parents of twins, a boy and a girl born in 1955 who inspired her book “Mitch and Amy.”
Cleary studied library science at the University of Washington and worked as the children’s librarian at Yakima, Wash., and post librarian at the Oakland Army Hospital during World War II.
Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and inspired Japanese, Danish and Swedish television programs based on the Henry Huggins series.
A 10-part PBS series, “Ramona,” starred Canadian actress Sarah Polley.
The 2010 film “Ramona and Beezus” featured actresses Joey King and Selena Gomez.
Cleary was asked once what her favorite character was.
“Does your mother have a favorite child?” she responded.
Biographical material compiled by former AP staffer Polly Anderson and AP Staffer Kristin J.
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– March 27, 2021
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