One of my all-time favorite authors, when I was a kid, was Beverly Cleary. I think I read seven of the eight books in the Ramona Quimby series growing up, my favorite being Ramona and Her Mother.
In her first job as a children’s librarian, Cleary saw a need for children’s books featuring characters young readers could relate to. She once said: “I believe in that ‘missionary spirit’ among children’s librarians. Kids deserve books of literary quality, and librarians are so important in encouraging them to read and selecting books that are appropriate.” It was this “spirit” that led her to write her first novel, Henry Huggins, which was published in 1950 and catapulted her into a career as a children’s author.
Cleary’s career spanned 49 years, with her final published work, Ramona’s World, in 1999. Cleary authored forty-two books, which have collectively sold over 91 million copies worldwide. Her works have been the recipient of The National Book Award (Ramona and Her Mother) and the Newberry Medal (Dear Mr. Henshaw). Cleary was honored with the National Medal of Arts and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for her contributions to children’s literature.
Her Ramona Quimby character has adapted to TV and film, with a TV series called Ramona produced in 1988, and a live-action movie – Ramona and Beezus – in 2010. The Mouse and the Motorcycle had a smaller adaptation in 1986 as an ABC Weekend Special.
Sadly, Cleary passed away on March 26 of this year at the age of 104. Below are some clips of interviews that Cleary did over the years about her writing, her writing themes, and more.
Check back next week for another great writer!