Beverly Cleary, the author of the beloved Ramona Quimby series of books for children, is about to turn 100.
Appearing on the Today show to celebrate her milestone on Friday, Cleary had an interesting take on reaching a century.
“Well, I didn’t do it on purpose. I remember a very earnest conversation my best friend and I had when we were, I guess, freshmen in high school, about how long we wanted to live, and we decided that 80 was the cut-off date.”
— one Vox (@oneVoxdotcom) March 25, 2016
Cleary, who will turn 100 on April 12, has written more than 40 books, including books about Ramona the Pest and Henry Huggins. Despite her success as a writer, the author didn’t learn to read until the second grade. Cleary noted that although reading opened up a whole new world to her as a young girl, she wasn’t too thrilled with the books available to her to read.
“So many books in those days, back in the 1920s, had been published in England and the children had nannies and pony carts. They seemed like a bunch of sissies to me.”
— Write About Now (@wanpoetry) March 25, 2016
When Cleary grew up, she became a school librarian. Because the books she signed out to kids still left her unimpressed, she decided to write books that would satisfy her clientele.
She told Jenna Bush she agreed with a little boy who came into the library and asked her, “Where are the books about kids like us?”
In 1950, Cleary published her first book, Henry Huggins, about the adventures of an ordinary boy and his dog, Ribsy.
The books became favorites of generations of little boys that followed the boy who inspired her to create characters kids could relate to.
— Brian Ridder (@brianridder) March 16, 2016
Even though kids are very familiar with Henry Huggins and all his adventures, it was the introduction of Ramona Quimby in a series of books that offered Beverly Cleary her greatest success and fame.
According to Vox, Ramona first burst onto the scene as a supporting player in a story about her older sister and friend of Henry Huggins, Beezus and Ramona, in 1955. She quickly became the favorite sister to Cleary’s readers and soon took over as the main character. The series continued until the final publication, Ramona’s World, in 1999.
The Today show invited modern fans of the Ramona books to share their birthday wishes to the beloved author, including one little girl who cradled one of Cleary’s books in her arms.
“I would say thank you. They kind of inspired me to go out and read more, and I thank her so much for that.”
Born on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon, Beverly Atlee Bunn lived with her mother, Mable, and father, Lloyd, on a farm in Yamhill until the age of six, when the family moved to Portland.
According to OBP, childhood experiences have colored Beverly Cleary’s works, including the places she lived, the children she knew, and what she thought and felt as a child in Oregon.
— Killarney Traynor (@KillarneyTray) March 25, 2016
“Her books’ enduring appeal springs from her writing about kids being kids. She, however, does not want to be seen as a children’s book author, but rather, an author who writes for children.”
Happy birthday, Beverly Cleary, and thank you!
(Photo courtesy of beverlycleary.com)