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Children’s novelist Beverly Cleary has died

by Gaye Clark
Posted 3/26/21, 06:08 pm

Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary died Thursday at her home in Northern California, publisher HarperCollins announced. She was 104. Her stories portrayed carefree childhoods, much like her own in Oregon. As a little girl, Cleary hated to read and was in the lowest reading circle in first grade. That bad experience inspired her to write books her young readers could enjoy. Cleary’s mother, an ex-teacher, told her, “Try to write something funny.”

How did she do it? Cleary worked as a children’s librarian for most of her career. In 1950, she published her first book, Henry Huggins. In subsequent books, she introduced Ramona Quimby, her most mischievous character. “I was so annoyed with the books in my childhood, because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t,” she said.

Cleary authored more than 30 books for children and young adults and sold more than 91 million copies of her books worldwide. Her books have won numerous awards, including the John Newbery Medal and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. In 2000, the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend.”

In 1940, she eloped with Clarence Cleary, a devout Catholic, over her Presbyterian parents’ objections. They remained married until his death in 2004. They had twins—a boy and a girl—three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

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Gaye Clark

Gaye is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.

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  • RyanpO
    Posted: Fri, 03/26/2021 10:13 pm

    My oldest daughter will be so sad to hear this. A few months ago, she discovered in a very round-about way that Beverly Cleary was 1. still alive at 104, and 2. living in a nursing home fifteen minutes away from us in Carmel Valley, CA. (As a military family, we’re temporary CA residents.) 

    My daughter (14) dearly loves Beverly Cleary’s books, and, although she’s outgrown the intended age of the average reader, she has found that Ms. Cleary’s books are calming and encouraging when she feels anxious or is going through dramatic changes in her life. As a military child with no “hometown,” she was able to find one that she could revisit as often as she liked in Ms. Cleary’s stories... 

    When she found out that a friend from our church was actually one of Ms. Cleary’s nurses, my daughter wrote a lovely letter that was hand carried to her and read aloud (by Beverly Cleary’s request) several times. ❤️ I am so grateful that my daughter had the amazing opportunity to connect with an author she’s deeply appreciated and that she could encourage and thank a lonely woman during a difficult time.

    My daughter’s story demonstrates the power, reach, and gift of a GOOD writer. And, it shows the heartening and inspiring effect a story/character/town can make for a child...

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Mon, 03/29/2021 03:55 pm

    Great mini-story, RyanpO.  A+

    Posted: Mon, 03/29/2021 04:50 pm

    Very nice story. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ann Marshall
    Posted: Sun, 03/28/2021 12:41 am

    I always appreciated the realism in Beverly Cleary's books. She remembered childhood with clarity and affection and gave the children in her stories child-sized problems to solve. Despite being a grandmother, it's still so much fun to visit Klickitat Street, dozens of apples with one bite taken,  "Dawnzer lee light" and all...