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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Author Beverly Cleary Dies at 104


Children’s author Beverly Cleary died Thursday in her Carmel Valley, California home at the age of 104, according to her publisher HarperCollins. Cleary was best known for her characters like Ramona and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph S. Mouse.

Cleary first worked as a children’s librarian and did not start writing until she was 30 years old. Her first book, Henry Huggins was published in 1950. Since then she has published over 40 books, selling over 91 million copies worldwide.

As a child, Cleary struggled with reading and was often disciplined by her teachers for her difficulties with it. However, she noted that she decided she wanted to write children’s books when she was in the sixth or seventh grade.

Multiple generations of children grew up reading her books, which put a focus on realistic stories that children of all ages could relate to.

Cleary wanted to write relatable stories about the types of children that she grew up with. In a 1993 interview, she stated that during her work as a librarian children were always asking for books about “kids like us” so she took it upon herself to write those stories.

Her books touch upon many different topics and experiences that children often go through, including divorce, friendships, and school. 

Perhaps her most well-known character, Ramona Quimby, is always getting into trouble and defies the expectations of what a young girl should be. She serves as a relatable character for other young girls who don’t want to conform to traditional expectations; ones who like to play in the mud at recess, joke around in class, and aren’t afraid to speak their minds. 

Cleary has won numerous awards for her books, including three John Newbery Medals and the National Medal of Arts. She was also named a Library of Congress Living Legend in 2000. 

Her characters Ramona, Beezus, Henry Huggins, and others were featured in the 2010 film Ramona and Beezus starring Joey King and Selena Gomez.

Cleary wrote her last book, Ramona’s World in 1999. Her books have been published in 20 countries in over 14 languages. 

She married Clarence Cleary in 1940 and they had twin children, Marianne and Malcolm, in 1955. 

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