Friday, April 12, 2019

Happy 103rd Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary and...could it be...the muse for her
beloved book Socks

Today is author Beverly Cleary's 103rd birthday! As a lifelong fan of Beverly Cleary's books for children and teens, I think Cleary should be celebrated all the other 364 days of the year too. She's just that good!

I first came across Beverly Cleary's name on the Scholastic book order form in elementary school in the seventies. For this shy book lover, marking the books I wanted was the anticipated highlight of my school year, only topped by them actually arriving on my desk in a stack to take home and devour. The first book I ever ordered was Cleary's Ramona the Pest, my favorite childhood book to this day.

Oh, it's true that authors of children's and teen books have tackled some increasingly tough subject matter over the decades since Cleary stopped writing—rape, murder, drug addiction, racism, LGBTQ themes—but some may have forgotten that it wasn't always rainbows and lollipops for Cleary's characters either, and the author beautifully balanced childhood wonder and innocence with some stark subjects of the day for children's lit—bullying, divorce, unemployment, the stress of two-working-parent households, anger issues, sibling rivalry. I mean, Ramona's cat Picky-Picky dies in Ramona Forever, for Pete's sake! While she and Beezus were home after school...alone.

Discover the world of Beverly Cleary for the first time (or books about her), or, if you're getting on up there like I am, take a stroll through memory lane by re-reading some of her books. See what's available on the JCLC catalog.

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