I grew up with Ramona Quimby, devouring her adventures as fast as Beverly Cleary could write them – or so I thought.
I didn’t know then that five of the books in Cleary’s beloved series were published before I was born. This is a testament to Cleary’s talent as a writer; that characters who were so part of their time in the 1950s and 1960s were just as relevant to me in the 1980s.
Ramona Forever was released in 1984. I still remember sitting on my family’s porch, listening to my mother’s bridge club in the dining room, as I devoured what was then considered the final book in the series (Ramona’s World was published 15 years later). It was a moment of joy – Yay! A new Ramona book! – and of sadness.
Ramona was growing up. I was, too.
While I made sure to read Ramona’s World years later, I had long since moved on to new books, new series and new authors. Still, I never forgot Ramona or any of the other memorable characters Cleary created. Being able to share Ramona, Henry, Beezus and Ralph with my own children is one of the joys of parenting. Passing my well-loved copy of Ramona and Her Mother on to my daughter was an emotional moment – one that got a little too emotional when she recreated the toothpaste in the sink scene.
Today, Beverly Cleary celebrate her 98th birthday. All month long, the Library has honored Cleary – and Drop Everything and Read Month – by showcasing photos of our staff taking a break from work to read. I can’t think of a better way to show a beloved author how much her stories have touched us.
Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary from all of us at ICPL!