Sunday, April 02, 2006

Some Things Never Go Out Of Style

One of my favorite children's authors, Beverly Cleary, will celebrate her 90th birthday on the 12th of April. Cleary, who is responsible for such timeless characters as Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse, Ellen Tebbits and my personal favorite, Ramona Quimby is a Berkeley grad and former children's librarian who responded the only way she knew how when a young friend observed that there were no book characters with whom they could identify. Cleary's research showed her that much of what was out there for young readers was borderline insulting . She sat down to write what would turn out to be "Henry Huggins" in longhand and sent it off to the publisher. It was accepted six weeks later.

This month, instead of sweeping Cleary and her characters under the red carpet upon which more contemporary heros--like Harry Potter--usually stand, HarperCollins is repackaging some of her "biggest hits" including all eight Ramona books. My favorites have the original Louis Darling illustrations. In Cleary's honor, April 12th is being set aside for the national observance of "DROP EVERYTHING AND READ DAY" .

I plan on celebrating Beverly Cleary's birthday all that day. Maybe I'll finish the book I've started or perhaps I'll treat myself to another run-through of "Ramona the Pest" .It doesn't really matter what you read...as long as you participate. What better way to honor someone else and do yourself a favor at the same time? HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MRS. CLEARY.....and...thanks.

23 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Some of my favorite moments of childhood were spent reading Beverly Cleary's books.

What a nice post! :)

8:14 PM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

The first chapter book I ever read was my sister's copy of Ramona the Brave. I was about 6 or 7. I love Beverly Cleary and had no idea she was alive and kicking! Thanks for the update. I just might have to go out and buy the repackaged collection.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous jess said...

Thank you so much for posting this! We love Ramona and Ralph S. Mouse. My kids will be very excited when i tell them about this.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Irene said...

thank you for this post. I've never read any of her books but now I'm probably going to buy ALL OF THEM!

12:16 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Beverly Cleary is a remarkable writer by any standard. I see her as so much more than a children's author.

Her characters were well rounded and complex, and she had the courage not to idealize childhood but to capture it as it really is.

Unlike the "perfect" TV families of the 1950s, the Quimby family was earthy and real. The parents had financial struggles, the Dad was sometimes unemployed or underemployed and hoping for better, the mom was tired after work and sometimes cooked crappy meals, the cat refused to eat the generic cat food they had to buy, Ramona could be a pain in the ass and Beezus so prissy but it was clear this family was built to last and to love one another.

Cheers to Beverly Cleary for making it all happen!

3:24 AM  
Blogger R. Robyn said...

I have always loved Ramona! Those were my favorite books in elementary school. I was always looking for more.

4:39 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

I DEVOURED Beverly Cleary's books. I always felt that she "got" me. What a wonderful woman! I will definitely participate.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Have you and I commented about her before somewhere? I think you told me to read her biography too. Something about Nob Hill. There's a park in Portland dedicated to her, and I list her as one of my top 5 favorite authors. In fact, I keep wavering in my mind whether to pursue that genre, with her as the best guide...
Anyway, thanks for this post. My daughter loves all of the BC books we've read so far. I think we'll get started on Ramona the Pest tonight. (and that picture at the bottom is awesome - wouldn't it make a good car-window sticker?)

9:21 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

I devoured all the Cleary books I could get my grubby little hands on.

10:30 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I got the red/white picture of Ramona from Google Images. I was looking for a copy of Ramona the Pest that showed the original Louis Darling illustrations, but--aside from the drawing here--I could only find the newer ones. I think Darling really captured the essence of Ramona, and Mignon's right. This would make a great sticker.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Loved, loved, loved Ralph S. Mouse!!!

2:20 PM  
Blogger daysgoby said...

I remember reading them, and loving them, but now can't remember the story...time for a re-read! Yay! Lazy day books!

2:30 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

Oh thank you WordGirl. Ralph's adventures were some of my favorite stories in elementary school.
And you're right, her writing is timeless.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

I LOVE Beverly Cleary! Did you ever read "A Girl from Yamhill", the story of her life?

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Ellen Tebbits was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I enjoyed introducing my daughters to all the Cleary books.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Bridgermama said...

I love Beverly Cleary. I get all warm and fuzzy thinking of Ramona. I just found out this past weekend that the Ramona books were supposedly set right down the street from me in Portland. Love that!

9:50 PM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

One of my favorite books as a girl was 'Ramona The Pest.' Not surprisingly, my older sister said she always reminded her of me.

Now, my younger daughter reminds me of Ramona, but I can't get either her or my older daughter to touch any Beverly Cleary books - 'too old fashioned.'

But I think on 4/12 I'll tie them down and read 'RTP' to them - that'll show em.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Peggy said...

Thanks to Ramona, I still think of drawing cats whenever I write the letter "Q," and I sing "by the dawnzer lee light" when I hear the national anthem.

Have you checked out Pop Culture Junk Mail this week? Gael has a nice tribute to Cleary as well.

4:03 AM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

I love Beverly Cleary. She and Judy Blume were two of my favorite authors when I was a kid!

6:52 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

At my daughter's school, they celebrate an all-out reading day by going to school in pajamas, taking their favorite pillow and/or blankie, and reading from first to last bell, only stopping to eat and pottie when necessary. What I would've given for a day like that at school.

BTW, I'm partial to the classic Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Daxohol said...

Man1 I LOVED Ramona books when I was young! What a nice memory to dust off!

8:28 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Great post!

Happy Birthday, Ms. Cleary!

She has such a lovely face, doesn't she?

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Leah said...

OMG, I absolutely loved Beverly Cleary books. I read them all about a hundred times. (Except I wasn't a big fan of Ralph S. Mouse. It only got one read.)

What an awesome reminder. I need to go out and get that re-edition. I want to read those books again....

7:34 PM  

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