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Meet the Authors and Illustrators
Beverly Cleary

Book List

BC-Henshaw
Dear Mr. Henshaw

BC-MouseMotorcycle
The Mouse and the Motorcycle

BC-RamonaFather
Ramona and Her Father

BC-Ramona8
Ramona Quimby, Age 8

BC-RamonaBrave
Ramona the Brave

BC-RamonaPest
Ramona the Pest

BC-Strider
Strider

Beverly Cleary - Author

Beverly Cleary, 90, is the beloved author of more than 30 books, including Ramona Quimby, Age 8; Dear Mr. Henshaw; The Mouse and the Motorcycle; and Henry Huggins. Ramona first appeared as a character in the 1950s.  The most recent Ramona book, Ramona's World, was published in 1999.

Interview

RIF: You had difficulty learning to read as a child. How did you overcome that?

Beverly Cleary: I had a very wise mother. She always kept books that were my grade level in our house. One rainy afternoon I picked up a book to look at the pictures and realized I was reading and enjoying what I read.

RIF: Did you read aloud to your children (fraternal twins)? Did they read your books?

BC:  Yes, I did read aloud to them. When I was a child, there was no TV and not everyone had a radio, so my mother read to us. When I was a mother, I was surrounded by distractions. But with twins, reading aloud to them was the only chance I could get to sit down. They loved being read to. I read them picture books until they were reading on their own.  

I had read them my books aloud before they were published. Other than that, I really don’t know if they read them or not.

RIF: Do you have a favorite children's book, other than your own?

BC: People are usually surprised to hear this, but I don't really read children's books.

RIF: You must get a lot of fan letters from children. Do you have any favorites or memorable ones?

BC: I’m very surprised at the high number of boys who have written to say that reading my books was hard work but worth it. I have many loyal boy readers.

Some of the letters are little novels. One girl wrote “My mom and I are poor but we’re making it.” Another wrote, “My mother put me in a children’s home and I love it.”  Hearing those things just makes me wonder about childhood today. I didn’t get letters like that when I first started writing 50 years ago. You can write a novel inspired by one of those sentences. I don’t plan to, however.

RIF: You've written for teenagers and younger children. Is there an age you relate to most?

BC: I enjoy writing for 3rd and 4th graders most of all. Reading meant so much to me in the 3rdgrade – that’s when I discovered it was enjoyable. When I was a librarian, I remember so many other children made same discovery at that age.

RIF: You've also written from the point of view of both boys and girls. Is one easier than the other?

BC: Well, I’ve never been a boy. But I was a very observant child. The boys in my books are based on boys in my neighborhood growing up.

RIF: Ramona's been around since the 1950s. Have you had to "update" her?

BC: No, I haven’t. For one thing, Ramona lives in one of the most stable neighborhoods in the United States. I don’t think children’s inner feelings have changed. They still want a mother and father in the very same house; they want places to play. I feel that childhood internally hasn’t changed. But the exterior circumstances have certainly changed for many children. The world is not the safe place it was when I was growing up. One child wrote and was amazed that Ramona and her sister could walk to the park alone. I think maybe they still could in their neighborhood, but in most neighborhoods they couldn’t.

RIF: You have some great animal characters, like Socks and Ribsy. Did you know any animals like them?

BC: I grew up before there were strict leash laws, and there was a “Ribsy” in every neighborhood waiting after school for a boy, wandering around checking on things. And we did have a cat very much like Socks.

RIF: What about Ralph S. Mouse? Did you ever make friends with a mouse yourself?

BC: Yes, I did. When my children went to camp, they were taken to a country fair. The camp allowed them to buy something. My son bought a mouse, and my daughter bought a hamster. When they got home, we were brave about it and got cages. The little mouse was a very appealing character. I’d be making breakfast in the morning, and the mouse would be standing there in his cage with his little paws on the bars.

RIF: Do you have any rituals or traditions you follow when you write?

BC: When I first start a book, I tell myself firmly to sit there so I can get it started. It’s usually hard to start. I don’t necessarily start with the beginning of the book. I just start with the part of the story that’s most vivid in my imagination and work forward and backward from there. For about a week, I have to be firm with myself.

RIF: Did you ever want to be anything other than a writer?

BC: In the 3rd or 4th grade, I wanted to be a ballerina. I changed my mind and decided I wanted to write children’s books.

RIF: Is Ramona based on an actual person?

BC: People often think that I was Ramona as a child. I wasn’t, but I had many of the same feelings that she did, but I didn’t do the things she did. Many children tell me they feel like Ramona.

RIF: Why is Portland, Oregon the setting for Ramona and many of your other characters?

BC: That’s the setting I knew as a child. I know what it’s like to be a child in Portland.

Write to Beverly Cleary!
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10019

 

Learn more about each of these authors and illustrators:
 

 
  Author

Author

 
  Illustrator

Illustrator

 

 
- - -
 

  illustrator

Allen Say

 
  Author

Arthur Dorros

 
  Illustrator

Ashley Bryan

 
  Author

Barbara Park

 
  Illustrator

Beverly Cleary

 
  illustrator

Bryan Collier

 
  Author

Candace Fleming

 
 

Carmen Rubin

 
  illustrator

Chris Van Allsburg

 
  Author

Cornelia Funke

 
  Author

Dav Pilkey

 
  illustrator

David Kirk

 
  Author

Eoin Colfer

 
  Illustrator

Eric Carle

 
 

Fred Bowen

 
  Author

Gail Carson Levine

 
  Illustrator

Graeme Base

 
  illustrator

Henry Cole

 
  Author

Jack Prelutsky

 
  illustrator

Jerry Pinkney

 
  Author

Jerry Spinelli

 
  Author

Joseph Bruchac

 
  Author

Karen Cushman

 
  Author

Kate DiCamillo

 
  Author

Kathleen Karr

 
 

Laurie Halse Anderson

 
  Author

Lemony Snicket

 
  Author

Lemony Snicket - part 2

 
  illustrator

Lulu Delacre

 
  illustrator

Mark Teague

 
  Author

Mary Pope Osborne

 
  Author

Megan McDonald

 
  Author

Mem Fox

 
  Author

Michelle Y. Green

 
  illustrator

Mo Willems

 
  Author

Nikki Grimes

 
  illustrator

Nina Laden

 
  Author

Pam Muñoz Ryan

 
  Illustrator

Pat Cummings

 
 

R.A. Montgomery

 
  Author

R.L. Stine

 
  Author

R.L. Stine - Part II

 
  illustrator

Rosemary Wells

 
  Author

Sharon Creech

 
  Author

Stan Lee

 
  Illustrator

Tony DiTerlizzi

 
  Author

Wendelin Van Draanen

 
  Author

William Sleator

 
 


For Grown-Ups:

 
 

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