In Honor of Beverly Cleary

Today I’d like to pay tribute to one of the most accomplished, most celebrated, most beloved children’s authors in history.  Growing up, the name Beverly Cleary rolled off my tongue as easily as “Ronald Reagan” or “Michael Jackson”.  Everyone knew who she was.  And her characters – Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Beezus and Ralph – sometimes I considered them better friends than my neighbors.

Born during the First World War, Mrs. Cleary has impacted children’s literature for decades.  Her rise to prominence began in the 1950’s; her last work was publish in 1999.  Currently, Mrs. Cleary is 95 years old and still writing.

What is it about her books that makes them as special today as they were half a century ago?  I’d answer, in part, that it’s her immaculate writing – smooth prose, a perfect sense of timing and vivid details that bring her stories to life.  Also, she writes about things important to kids: family, sibling rivalry, summer camp, school, dreams of growing up and neighborhood friends.  Timeless subjects that still speak to the heart of a child.  But it’s Mrs. Cleary’s cast of characters that make her work so unforgettable.  They’re real.  Flawed, impatient, scared, precocious.  We see ourselves in them.  We’re entertained by their outlandish actions.  The scene in the lunchroom where Ramona slams the raw egg against her forehead is still one of my favorites in all of literature.

Mrs. Cleary’s books deserve a place of prominence even after sixty years on the shelf.  And in my opinion, they’re badly needed.  Kids today seem to grow up way too fast.  They’re bombarded with wizards and vampires and horrible family situations.  A bit more time among the innocence and fun found in Beverly Cleary’s pages is just what the librarian ordered.

Beverly Cleary has written over forty books for children.  Click on the links to read my reviews:

Henry Huggins – (1950)
Ellen Tebbits – (1951)
Henry and Beezus – (1952)
Otis Spofford – (1953)
Henry and Ribsy – (1954)
Beezus and Ramona – (1955)
Fifteen – (1956)
Henry and the Paper Route – (1957)
The Luckiest Girl – (1958)
Jean and Johnny – (1959)
The Hullabaloo ABC – (1960)
The Real Hole – (1960)
Beaver and Wally – (1960)
Here’s Beaver! – (1961)
Two Dog Biscuits – (1961)
Emily’s Runaway Imagination – (1961)
Henry and the Clubhouse – (1962)
Sister of the Bride – (1963)
Ribsy – (1964)
The Mouse and the Motorcycle – (1965)
The Growing-Up Feet – (1967)
Mitch and Amy – (1967)
Ramona the Pest – (1968)
Runaway Ralph – (1970)
Socks – (1973)
Ramona the Brave – (1975)
Ramona and Her Father – (1977)
Ramona and Her Mother – (1979)
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 – (1981)
Ralph S. Mouse – (1982)
Dear Mr. Henshaw – (1983)
Ramona Forever – (1984)
The Ramona Quimby Diary – (1984)
Lucky Chuck – (1984)
Janet’s Thingamajigs – (1987)
A Girl from Yamhill – (1988)
Muggie Maggie – (1990)
Strider – (1991)
Petey’s Bedtime Story – (1993)
My Own Two Feet – (1995)
Ramona’s World – (1999)

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