NATIONAL NEWS

Beloved Children’s Author Beverly Cleary Dies At 104

Mar 26, 2021, 5:07 PM
(@Beverly ClearlyBooks/Facebook)...
(@Beverly ClearlyBooks/Facebook)
(@Beverly ClearlyBooks/Facebook)

NEW YORK (AP) — Beverly Cleary, the celebrated children’s author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins, has died. She was 104.

Cleary’s publisher HarperCollins announced Friday that the author died Thursday in Carmel Valley, California, where she had lived since the 1960s. No cause of death was given.

Trained as a librarian, Cleary didn’t start writing books until her early 30s when she wrote “Henry Huggins,” published in 1950. Children worldwide came to love the adventures of Huggins and neighbors Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby and her younger sister, Ramona. They inhabit a down-home, wholesome setting on Klickitat Street — a real street in Portland, Oregon, the city where Cleary spent much of her youth.

Among the “Henry” titles were “Henry and Ribsy,” “Henry and the Paper Route” and “Henry and Beezus.”

Ramona, perhaps her best-known character, made her debut in “Henry Huggins” with only a brief mention.

“All the children appeared to be only children so I tossed in a little sister and she didn’t go away. She kept appearing in every book,” she said in a March 2016 telephone interview from her California home.

Cleary herself was an only child and said the character wasn’t a mirror.

“I was a well-behaved little girl, not that I wanted to be,” she said. “At the age of Ramona, in those days, children played outside. We played hopscotch and jump rope and I loved them and always had scraped knees.”

In all, there were eight books on Ramona between “Beezus and Ramona” in 1955 and “Ramona’s World” in 1999. Others included “Ramona the Pest” and “Ramona and Her Father.” In 1981, “Ramona and Her Mother” won the National Book Award.

Cleary wasn’t writing recently because she said she felt “it’s important for writers to know when to quit.”

“I even got rid of my typewriter. It was a nice one but I hate to type. When I started writing I found that I was thinking more about my typing than what I was going to say, so I wrote it long hand,” she said in March 2016.

Although she put away her pen, Cleary re-released three of her most cherished books with three famous fans writing forewords for the new editions.

Actress Amy Poehler penned the front section of “Ramona Quimby, Age 8;” author Kate DiCamillo wrote the opening for “The Mouse and the Motorcycle;” and author Judy Blume wrote the foreword for “Henry Huggins.”

Cleary, a self-described “fuddy-duddy,” said there was a simple reason she began writing children’s books.

“As a librarian, children were always asking for books about `kids like us.′ Well, there weren’t any books about kids like them. So when I sat down to write, I found myself writing about the sort of children I had grown up with,” Cleary said in a 1993 Associated Press interview.

“Dear Mr. Henshaw,” the touching story of a lonely boy who corresponds with a children’s book author, won the 1984 John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. It “came about because two different boys from different parts of the country asked me to write a book about a boy whose parents were divorced,” she told National Public Radio as she neared her 90th birthday.

“Ramona and Her Father” in 1978 and “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” in 1982 were named Newbery Honor Books.

Cleary ventured into fantasy with “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” and the sequels “Runaway Ralph” and “Ralph S. Mouse.” “Socks,” about a cat’s struggle for acceptance when his owners have a baby, is told from the point of view of the pet himself.

She was named a Living Legend in 2000 by the Library of Congress. In 2003, she was chosen as one of the winners of the National Medal of Arts and met President George W. Bush. She is lauded in literary circles far and wide.

She produced two volumes of autobiography for young readers, “A Girl from Yamhill,” on her childhood, and “My Own Two Feet,” which tells the story of her college and young adult years up to the time of her first book.

“I seem to have grown up with an unusual memory. People are astonished at the things I remember. I think it comes from living in isolation on a farm the first six years of my life where my main activity was observing,” Cleary said.

Cleary was born Beverly Bunn on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon, and lived on a farm in Yamhill until her family moved to Portland when she was school-age. She was a slow reader, which she blamed on illness and a mean-spirited first-grade teacher who disciplined her by snapping a steel-tipped pointer across the back of her hands.

“I had chicken pox, smallpox and tonsillitis in the first grade and nobody seemed to think that had anything to do with my reading trouble,” Cleary told the AP. “I just got mad and rebellious.”

By sixth or seventh grade, “I decided that I was going to write children’s stories,” she said.

Cleary graduated from junior college in Ontario, California, and the University of California at Berkeley, where she met her husband, Clarence. They married in 1940; Clarence Cleary died in 2004. They were the parents of twins, a boy and a girl born in 1955 who inspired her book “Mitch and Amy.”

Cleary studied library science at the University of Washington and worked as the children’s librarian at Yakima, Wash., and post librarian at the Oakland Army Hospital during World War II.

Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and inspired Japanese, Danish and Swedish television programs based on the Henry Huggins series. A 10-part PBS series, “Ramona,” starred Canadian actress Sarah Polley. The 2010 film “Ramona and Beezus” featured actresses Joey King and Selena Gomez.

Cleary was asked once what her favorite character was.

“Does your mother have a favorite child?” she responded.

___

Biographical material compiled by former AP staffer Polly Anderson and AP Staffer Kristin J. Bender.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Post-tropical storm Fiona in Irish Cova, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island in Canada Sept. 24, 2022...
ROB GILLIES Associated Press

Fiona washes houses away, knocks out power in Canada

Strong rain and winds are lashing the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona hits as a powerful post-tropical cyclone. Canadian forecasters are warning it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history. Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn Saturday after transforming from a hurricane into a post-tropical cyclone. Forecasters caution that despite the change, Fiona still has hurricane-strength winds and will bring drenching rains and huge waves. More than 500,000 customers in Atlantic Canada are affected by outages. Ocean waves pounded the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were washed into the sea.
14 hours ago
An illustration shows NASA's DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency's LICIACube prior to impa...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

What will be visible when DART spacecraft crashes into tiny asteroid

The NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test aims to make history on Monday at 7:14 p.m. ET when it slams into Dimorphos, a tiny asteroid moon orbiting the larger asteroid Didymos.
2 days ago
NASA’s Artemis I rocket sits on launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center as it is prepared for an ...
MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

Approaching storm may delay launch try for NASA moon rocket

NASA's new moon rocket could face more launch delays, this time by tropical weather.
2 days ago
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey speaks at a Make America Great Again campaign rally on October 19, 2020...
BOB CHRISTIE, AP

Arizona judge: State can enforce near-total abortion ban

Arizona can enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years, a judge ruled Friday, meaning clinics across the state will have to stop providing the procedures to avoid the filing of criminal charges against doctors and other medical workers.
2 days ago
Courtesy 20th Century Studios
23 Sep 22...
Jason Carroll and Lisa Respers France, CNN

James Cameron says ‘Avatar 2’ is ‘more emotional’ than the original

James Cameron spoke to the differences of the new film.
2 days ago
WASHINGTON, DC - File photo: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).(Photo by Liz Lynch/Getty ...
LISA MASCARO AP Congressional Correspondent

McCarthy unveils House GOP’s midterm agenda in Pennsylvania

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday confronted President Joe Biden and the Democratic majority in Congress with a conservative midterm election agenda filled with Trump-like promises, working not only to win over voters but to hold together the uneasy coalition of his own party that has struggled to govern.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Beloved Children’s Author Beverly Cleary Dies At 104