Beverly Cleary at 100

Thank you, Frank Bruni, for reminding me of Beverly Cleary’s birthday on Tuesday, April 12th, in today’s New York Times Sunday Review article.  

When librarian Cleary introduced Ramona in her first book,Henry Huggins, in 1950, she created a fan base now extending to well-known artists today, including Kate DiCamillo, Judy Blume, and Amy Poehler, who wrote introductions to recent re-releases of three of Cleary’s books – Ramona Quimby, Age 8; The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and Henry Huggins.

character_ramona_starI’ve always identified with the feisty, irreverent Ramona who always has a question, because as Cleary noted in the interview: “I was a well-behaved girl, but I often thought like Ramona.”

In her interview, Beverly Cleary’s wise note hit a chord with me:

“As a child, I very much objected to books that tried to teach me something.  I just wanted to read for pleasure, and I did. But if a book tried to teach me, I returned it to the library.”

When we read books or discuss them, is it always necessary to dissect them?  As Robert Frost said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.”  

Children’s books offer a welcome relief in reading, and you don’t have to be a child to enjoy them.  If you are fan of Beverly Cleary books, now is a good time to get reacquainted. Ramona the Pest is my favorite – what’s yours?

9780061960901_p0_v4_s192x300If you somehow missed meeting Ramona in Cleary’s books, it’s not too late.

 

I have more to say about Beverly Cleary:

 

 

Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary is 95 years old today. She’s written two memoirs – The Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet, but it’s her award winning children’s books that endear her to readers.

The New York Times Sunday Book Review included a short anecdote about her fan mail being accidentally switched with that of Judy Blume, citing one reader asking Blume for her garbage, and a latch-key girl writing to Cleary to tell her how her books made her feel safe when she was alone in her house, waiting for her mother.  Cleary wrote back – she still does.

In her essay, Ramona Forever, Pamela Paul, the New York Times children’s book editor, clearly identifies the reasons for Cleary’s popularity and offers some of Cleary’s advice to prospective children’s book authors:

“Keep it simple…the proper subject of the novel is universal human experience grounded in the minutiae of ordinary life.”

I browsed the stacks for some old favorites to reread…while I have some jelly with my mashed potatoes.


Today is also Drop Everything and Read DayA Letter from Ramona Q.