Beverly Cleary turns 99-years-old on Sunday! The beloved author of books like Henry Huggins, The Mouse and the Motorcyle and the Ramona series, was born on April 12, 1916. We would like to celebrate her birthday by telling you a few things you may not know about this author.
- Yamhill, OR, the town where Mrs. Cleary was raised, did not have a library. So her mother made an arrangement with the State Library to have books sent to her and then created a reading area in a small room above the Yamhill Bank.
- After moving to Portland in the first grade, Beverly came down with the chicken pox and was out of school for a while. Being behind in her schoolwork when she returned she was placed in the lowest reading circle and quickly became bored with her required reading selection. Since Mrs. Cleary began writing, she has always kept in mind children who are struggling with reading.
- Though Mrs. Cleary’s parents had another gentleman in mind for her, Beverly eloped with Clarence Cleary, whom she had met in college.
- Though Mrs. Cleary was determined to write “the kind of books [she] wanted to read,” she followed her mother’s advice and got a steady job as a librarian.
- When her husband asked her why she didn’t write a book, Mrs. Cleary said, “Because we never have any sharp pencils,” so the next day Mr. Cleary brought her a pencil sharpener.
- Mrs. Cleary’s mother also advised her to write simply and make her books humorous, because “everyone likes to laugh.”
- Mrs. Cleary’s first book Henry Huggins was published in 1950.
- Mrs. Cleary’s best-loved character, Ramona, appeared as a minor character in Henry Huggins.
- Mrs. Cleary had a neighbor named Ramona, and one day, as Mrs. Cleary was writing the character of an annoying little sister, she heard someone call out “Ramona!” so that became the name of her character.
- Mrs. Cleary would bake bread while she wrote.
- You can see statues of Ramona Quimby and other Cleary characters in Portland’s Grant Park. Many scenes from several of Cleary’s books take place in Grant Park.
- Mrs. Cleary is a cat lover and owned one cat who tired of competing with the typewriter for Cleary’s attention, would sit on the keys
- In 2000, Mrs. Cleary was named a living legend by the Library of Congress.
- Mrs. Cleary’s last book Two Times the Fun was published in 2005. It is an omnibus, containing stories like The Growing-Up Feet, Two Dog Biscuits and Janet’s Thingamajigs.
- In Mrs. Cleary’s book Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona’s class celebrates Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day, a day set aside to encourage everyone to take time in their day to read. As a result, D.E.A.R. Day is now celebrated every April 12 to coincide with Mrs. Cleary’s birthday. What a wonderful way to celebrate someone’s birthday!
So, don’t forget to stop by your local Half Price Books on Sunday, April 12, and take time to read something fun. Perhaps even revisit your childhood by picking up a copy of your favorite Beverly Cleary book.
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Cleary!