AP, New York, Mar. 28: 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 neighbours 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.
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.
“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.