Children's Authors/Beverly Cleary

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Biographical Information[edit | edit source]

Beverly Cleary was born Beverly Atlee Bunn on April 12, 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon. Died March 26, 2021, age 104. She grew up on a farm in Yamhill, which was a town so small that it didn’t even have a library. Cleary’s mother arranged for books from the state library to be sent to Yamhill and stored in a makeshift library above a bank. In this setting, Cleary learned to love books and reading. Her school’s librarian once suggested that she write books for children when she grew up. Because of this suggestion, Cleary did eventually write the children’s books that she had wanted to read as a child, books that she couldn’t find on her own bookshelves.[1]
In 1934, Beverly Cleary moved to California to attend college. While in school, she worked as a substitute librarian, and eventually became a full-time librarian. She was able to connect with the children who would come into the library because they, like herself as a child, weren’t able to find books that they could relate to; they couldn’t find books about kids like themselves. This is when Cleary decided to begin her writing career. She married Clarence T. Cleary in 1940; they are the parents of twins. [2]
Children have fallen in love with Cleary's famous characters such as Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Beezus and Ramona, and Ralph S. Mouse for decades. Cleary has written more than thirty books and won several awards. “Drop Everything And Read Day” (DEAR) is celebrated on her birthday, April 12.

Awards and Honors[edit | edit source]

Cleary has won over thirty awards and honors, including the following:
1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
1978 Newbery Honor Book, Ramona and Her Father
1980 Regina Medal
1982 Newbery Honor Book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8
1984 Newbery Medal, Dear Mr. Henshaw
1985 Everychild Award

Books of Interest[edit | edit source]

Henry Huggins

This book was Cleary's first and was written in 1950. It tells the story of a boy named Henry Huggins who believes that his life is boring and that he never experiences anything exciting. Things change for Henry when he finds a dog, names him Ribsy, and decides to keep him. And so begins Henry's new, exciting life! This book is an important part of Cleary's collection because it was written in response to a letter from a child wanting to find books about "kids like us." Henry Huggins reappeared in later Cleary books. Readers are able to connect to the "realness" of Henry's character and delight in his new life with Ribsy.

Ellen Tebbits

This is the story of a young girl named Ellen who is embarrassed by a secret that she has...until she meets Austine and finds out that she has the same secret! They quickly become great friends and spend all of their time together. The girls both realize how much easier the world is when someone is there for support. Then Ellen does something to make Austine stop talking to her. This is a story of friendship, growing up, and finding your way. The story is realistic, believable, and relatable for all readers.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Ralph S. Mouse lives in a run-down hotel in California. He has a comfortable life, but what he really desires is a life of danger, speed, and excitement. One day a boy named Keith leaves a toy motorcycle out, which, of course, Ralph attempts to drive. He ends up falling with the motorcycle into a garbage can. Keith finds Ralph and the motorcycle in the garbage and the two become friends. Keith shows Ralph how to start and use the motorcycle, and Ralph ends up having his life of excitement...until he loses the motorcycle. Keith is upset with him and stops trusting him. When Keith becomes sick, Ralph is the one to help him, and their friendship is rekindled. This book was eventually adapted into a movie in 1986.

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Dear Mr. Henshaw was written in 1983 and was awarded the Newbery Award in 1984. This book is written as a series of diary entries and letters between the main character, a boy named Leigh, and Mr. Henshaw, Leigh's favorite author. Boyd Henshaw has been Leigh's favorite author since second grade. Now that he's in sixth grade and the new kid at school, he continues his letter-writing to the author for a school assignment. When Mr. Henshaw responds, Leigh is reluctant to reply. As Leigh's responses to Mr. Henshaw are shown, the reader learns of the trials and tribulations of this sixth grader's life. The reader learns that Leigh is struggling with his parents' divorce, being the new kid at school, and bullies. Leigh's letters and diary entries are therapeutic to him and help him realize that he has to learn to accept certain situations in his life. This story covers many aspects of everyday life that children of all ages can relate to: loneliness, school issues, and problems at home to name a few.


Socks is a fun book written from the perspective of a tabby cat. Socks is a happy cat that lives with the Brickers, a young couple who has always given him everything he needs. However, when new baby Charles joins the family, Socks begins to feel as if he's been forgotten. He is gradually given less and less attention and even ends up living in the garage for a while! While trying to find his place in this new family, Socks gets into trouble more than once. The Brickers eventually realize that they have been neglecting Socks since they brought Charles home. As Charles grows, Socks comes to the conclusion that Charles is his friend, not his enemy, and eventually finds his place in the family. This book includes several drawings throughout that help illustrate the plot. The story contains realistic, easy-to-follow conversations and interactions between the Brickers and Socks.

Ramona's World

This book is the last in the "Ramona" series and was also the last book published by Beverly Cleary. The famous Cleary character Ramona is now in fourth grade and is sure that it will be the best year of her life so far. Ramona loves her new teacher and even has a new best friend, Daisy. However, Ramona soon learns that fourth grade isn't so great; her teacher wants her to be a better speller, a task that does not come easily to Ramona. Ramona also struggles with her older sister, Beezus, who is now in high school, as well as with her baby sister, Roberta. Like many other children, Ramona wants to be given more responsibilities, such as babysitting her little sister or cat-sitting for Daisy. Ramona is still at odds with her nemesis, Susan, although they eventually come to understand each other better. As in many of the other "Ramona" books, Ramona comes to realize that she's doing a good job of growing up.

Writing Patterns and Style[edit | edit source]

Cleary has been known to say that she wrote her books to simply entertain her readers; she wasn't trying to teach anyone a lesson. Cleary's books are easy for children to relate to because they often deal with realistic, everyday situations that children come across during the course of their own lives. Her books cover topics such as new siblings, moving, friendships, etc. Cleary's books have universal appeal and are still captivating readers more than sixty years after the first book was published.
Cleary's books often contain realistic dialogue and recurring characters. For example, Ramona appears in at least eight different books. Readers are able to form relationships with these characters and follow them as they grow and develop. Cleary's books are often illustrated with black and white sketch-styled pictures that are used to build on and represent the plot. Alan Tiegreen was the illustrator for several of her books.

References[edit | edit source]

The Ageless Appeal of Beverly Cleary
Cleary, Beverly. (1950) Henry Huggins. New York. Harper Collins.
Cleary, Beverly. (1951). Ellen Tebbits. New York. Scholastic Inc.
Cleary, Beverly. (1965). The Mouse and the Motorcycle. New York. Avon Books.
Cleary, Beverly. (1983). Dear Mr. Henshaw. New York. Dell Publishing.
Cleary, Beverly. (1973). Socks. New York. Scholastic Inc.
Cleary, Beverly. (1999). Ramona's World. New York. Scholastic Inc.

Associated Wikimedia for Beverly Cleary