Beverly Cleary Turns 100

9780380709120_7d43e9780380728046_d417cBeloved children’s author Beverly Cleary celebrates a milestone on April 12th, her 100th birthday.

Interviewed on the Today Show, Cleary says about that achievement that she “didn’t do it on purpose!” and that she remembers “a very earnest conversation my best friend and I had when we were, I guess, freshmen in high school, about how long we wanted to live … and we decided that 80 was the cut-off date.”

Cleary became a school librarian and found that, as was the case when she herself was a reluctant reader, none of her students enjoyed the current crop of books for kids, finding them too foreign to their own lives. She recalls that “books in those days, back in the 1920s, had been published in England, and the children had nannies and pony carts.”

Her career as an author began when one of her students asked where the books were with “kids like us” and she sat down and started writing them.

Julie Blume and Kate DiCamillo both appear in the Today Show story to praise Cleary, remarking on how important and influential her books have been.

9780380709601_a0ee4Cleary stopped writing years ago but that has not dented her popularity or diminished interest. Last month librarian Julie Roach wrote an essay for The Horn Book reporting on Cleary’s circulation stats:

“Twenty-first-century characters who are often compared to Ramona — such as Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine, Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho, and Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody and Stink — are in high demand at our library, but over the past year the print versions of Ramona held ten to twenty percent higher circulation figures than those other series.”

One Response to “Beverly Cleary Turns 100”

  1. Ann Perrigo Says:

    Can’t help wondering why the wonderful Ms. Cleary stopped writing. I’l bet she still has stories!