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Cherished Children’s Author Beverly Cleary Dies at 104

Photo from Barnes & Noble Twitter

Cherished Children’s Author Beverly Cleary Dies at 104

By Movieguide® Staff

Renowned children’s author Beverly Cleary—known for creating relatable characters such as Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse, and Ramona Quimby, died on March 23 in California. She was 104 years old.   

Cleary’s publisher HarperCollins made the announcement via Twitter. 

“We are saddened to share that cherished children’s book author Beverly Cleary passed away yesterday, March 25, at 104 years old,” the publisher wrote. 

Cleary’s timeless stories and characters were based on the lives and children in her neighborhood, ensuring a timeless legacy in children’s literature.    

“I think children want to read about normal, everyday kids. That’s what I wanted to read about when I was growing up,” Cleary told NPR’s Linda Wertheimer in 1999. “I wanted to read about the sort of boys and girls that I knew in my neighborhood and in my school. And in my childhood, many years ago, children’s books seemed to be about English children, or pioneer children. And that wasn’t what I wanted to read. And I think children like to find themselves in books.”

Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, also shared a tribute to the late author. 

“We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time. Looking back, she’d often say, ‘I’ve had a lucky life,’ and generations of children count themselves lucky too—lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years,” Murphy said. “We at HarperCollins also feel extremely lucky to have worked with Beverly Cleary and to have enjoyed her sparkling wit. Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood.”

AP reported

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.

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.

“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.

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.

Cleary’s books were also used as source material for the movie RAMONA AND BEEZUS.

According to the Movieguide® review:

RAMONA AND BEEZUS is a funny, heartfelt family film. It follows the exploits of young Ramona Quimby. The middle child of three girls, Ramona struggles to fit in both at home and at school. At home, she must please her parents while following in the footsteps of her older sister Beezus, who is beautiful, popular and gets perfect grades. Ramona looks forward to getting a room of her own, but then her father loses his job, so she tries to help out by making money selling lemonade and auditioning for a TV commercial. When her efforts fail, Ramona begins to think that her family is better without her. So, she thinks about running away.

Based on a popular series of children’s books, RAMONA AND BEEZUS is a delightful, winsome family movie that will entertain both young and old. Joey King is a perfect Ramona. Her endearing performance is reason enough to see the movie. In fact, there is good chemistry among the whole cast. Most importantly, RAMONA AND BEEZUS is appropriate for children of all ages. It also contains many Christian, moral values such as love, family, perseverance, and individual worth.