You know I love to read. LOVE to read!! I’m always reading several books at once (in different locations and different times of day). Today I want to celebrate the life of a great soul who wrote many books you may have read: BEVERLY CLEARY. She turned 100 on 12 April!
This is actually a SHOUT-OUT to her, but I decided to post it in BOOKS and READING. I first knew anything about her when I was a camp nurse (Nurse Melon!… I can still hear children’s voices calling to me, and me hoping it was nothing TOO serious) at Shady Lawn Farm in Oakdale, California.
Her children, twins Marianne and Malcolm, were at the camp. They were wonderful kids – very polite, cheerful, and well-mannered. We had a day when parents and other family came to watch what their children had learned about riding horses (my sisters Susan and Ann both taught riding there), and it was fun matching parents with children!
In an article written about her, Beverly didn’t seem too excited to talk about turning 100 and said “Go ahead and fuss… everyone else is.” HA!
Children all over the country were being asked to “drop everything and read” to commemorate Cleary’s contribution to children’s literature. As for celebrating her birthday, she said she was keeping it low-key – a celebratory slice of carrot cake (one of my 2 favorites!!!), “because I like it.”
This wonderful author has been called as feisty and direct as her famously spirited character Ramona Quimby (an observation she hears often and doesn’t care for). She reports that although she thought like Ramona, she was “a very well-behaved little girl.”
She still talks about her characters as if they are friends. Even if she doesn’t want to be compared to Ramona, she confesses that the spitfire is her favorite. The charming and better-behaved Ellen Tebbits is a close second. She would have both girls over to dinner, she says, “but not at the same time.”
Her mother read to her regularly, and she loved that. She didn’t start reading books on her own until third grade.
She worked as a children’s librarian for some time. Later she paid for her education by working at various jobs, including as a seamstress and a chambermaid. She now lives in a retirement home in Northern California and describes it as very nice – she can look out on trees, rabbits, and birds. She gets up early each morning and spends the day reading newspapers and books and doing crossword puzzles. She said she enjoys writing letters (doesn’t have a computer) but that when you’re this old “there aren’t many people to write letters to.”
She shared some thoughts about children these days: “I think children today have a tough time, because they don’t have the freedom to run around as I did — and they have so many scheduled activities.”
More than 40 of her books are still in print. She won many awards, including a “Living Legend” award from the Library of Congress in 2000. Her last book, “Ramona’s World,” was published in 1999.
So today we’re celebrating this wonderful writer of great children’s books, and we’re also celebrating the JOY and PLEASURE of READING!!