Beverly Cleary, Award-Winning Author of Ramona Quimby

Ramona and Beezus, Henry Huggins, Dear Mr. Henshaw and More

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Credit: Alan McEwan

Introduction

Beverly Cleary, 100 years old on April 12, 2016, is the beloved author of 30 children's books, some published more than 60 years ago, all still in print, along with two autobiographies. She was honored by the Library of Congress in 2000 as a "Living Legend" and has won numerous awards for her children's books, including the John Newbery Medal and the National Book Award.

Children's books by Beverly Cleary have delighted children, particularly 8 to12 year olds, for several generations.

Her humorous, yet realistic, children's books about the ordinary lives of children, along with such appealing characters as Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins, have captured the interest of children around the world. Beverly Cleary has written 30-plus books, including three about a feisty mouse. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In addition, Ramona and Beezus, a movie based on Cleary's Ramona Quimby and her older sister, Beatrice "Beezus" Quimby, was released in 2010.

Beverly Cleary and Her Award-Winning Children's Books

Beverly Bunn was born April 12, 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon and spent her early years in Yamhill where her mother started a small library. Thus began the author's lifelong love of books. Her family moved to Portland when Beverly was six years old; she was delighted to find a large public library. Beverly went on to study library science at the University of Washington in Seattle and became a children's librarian.

In 1940, she married Clarence Cleary.

Beverly Cleary's first book, Henry Huggins was published in 1950 and was inspired by a boy who complained to the librarian that there weren't any books about kids like him. It, and the other books about Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy remain popular today. Her most recent book, Ramona's World, was published in 1999 and features one of her most beloved characters, Ramona Quimby.

The first movie based on Cleary's Ramona Quimby, Ramona and Beezus, centers on grade schooler Ramona's relationship with her older sister, Beatrice. This relationship is a part of all of the Ramona books, but most particularly in the book Beezus and Ramona.

Beverly Cleary has won numerous awards, including the John Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw.  Two of her books about Ramona Quimby, Ramona and Her Father and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 were designated Newbery Honor Books. Cleary also received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in honor of her contributions to children's literature. If that's not enough, her books have also won about three dozen statewide children's choice awards and she won the National Book Award for Ramona and Her Mother.

The Klickitat Street Books of Beverly Cleary

When she was a child, Cleary noticed that there didn't seem to be any books about children like the ones who lived in her neighborhood. When Beverly Cleary began writing children's books, she created her own version of Klickitat Street, a real street near her childhood neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. The children who live on Klickitat Street are based on the children she grew up with.

Fourteen of Cleary's books are set on Klickitat Street, beginning with her first book, Henry Huggins.

While Henry was the focus of the first books, a number of Beverly Cleary's books also highlighted Beatrice "Beezus" Quimby and Beezus' little sister, Ramona. In fact, Ramona has been the title character in the last seven of the Klickitat Street books.

The most recent Ramona book, Ramona's World, came out in 1999. HarperCollins published a paperback version in 2001. With a fifteen-year break between Ramona's World and the last previous Ramona book, I was a little apprehensive about a lack of continuity. I needn't have worried. In Ramona's World, as in her other books featuring Ramona Quimby, Cleary is right on target as she addresses, in typical humorous fashion, the vicissitudes in the life of Ramona Quimby, now a fourth grader.

Beverly Cleary's books have remained popular because of characters like Ramona.

If your children haven't read any of her books, now's the time to introduce them to Cleary's books.  They might also enjoy the movie version, Ramona and Beezus.

(Sources: Beverly Cleary's website, Scholastic Biography of Beverly Cleary, Jim Trelease Author Profile of Beverly Cleary)