RiP Beverly Cleary

One of the first books I remember reading independently was The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. I loved Ralph Mouse, and I loved his imagination and risk taking. The header photo is of my old copy of Runaway Ralph. I was sad to see that Beverly Cleary died last week at the age of 104.

We have many of our childhood books, as well as the books we got for our children. We have been eagerly waiting for our grandson to get older, and we have gradually been sending him the books we have as he gets old enough for them. Along with his Easter basket we sent a compendium of Beatrix Potter stories. Many of those stories are pretty hard for a little one to sit through, but I think The Tale of Jeremy Fisher, Two Bad Mice, and The Roly Poly Pudding could be made interesting with the right voices.

What are some books and stories you would like to share with a young person?

36 thoughts on “RiP Beverly Cleary”

  1. Edith would have been all over this topic.

    Coincidentally, Robin just put a set of Beatrix Potter books in a giveaway bag, commenting that the best part of them is the illustrations and that the stories are slow and dull.

    The list one could make is a long one, especially since ”young person” covers a lot of territory. But assuming the person is very young and not ready for chapter books there are still a great many good choices. I can start wit a few off the top of my head:

    Robert McCloskey – Blueberries for Sal,etc.
    A. A. Milne -Pooh
    Maurice Sendak – The Nutshell Library, etc.
    Russell Hoban – Frances
    Rosemary Wells – The Bunny Planet
    Mo Willems – Elephant and Piggie
    Arnold Lobel – Frog and Toad

    Liked by 7 people

  2. I discovered Beezus and Ramona when I was about eight. I remember that I really liked it because it seemed like Beezus and Ramona were real girls, not like some of the goody two shoes that often found their way into kids’ books. I read a lot of Beverly Cleary at that point, she was already well-established. I think maybe I’ve read about half of them but I should like to try a couple more now, especially her two autobiographical books, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. “Johnny Tremain” is still one of my favorite children’s books because it brought the American Revolution to life for me. “Treasure Island” is another classic that’s one of my ATFs. Of course, all kids should read lots of Dr. Seuss just for the color, the whimsey, the joy of rhyme, and the wild imagination that is let loose on the page.

    I was also seriously into biographies as a kid–especially sports figures. But I’m sure there exist today many bios of famous people in other walks of life and professions. Those books gave me heroes, role models, and goals to shoot for. A child needs to think there will be more to his/her life than today and tomorrow. I identified with so many of my sports idols because they usually came from humble backgrounds and worked for everything they achieved. I could easily put myself in their shoes and imagine greatness for myself. LOL, didn’t quite work out that way, but hey, I’ve had a damn fine life so far. 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My boyhood reading was a mishmash. I had books from my grandparent’s house, books that had belonged to my father and uncle. They were mostly books written for boys in the first decades of the century, books like The Boy from the Ranch and The Newsboy Partners by the pseudonymous Frank V. Webster, The Lone Ranger at the Mystery Ranch by Fran Striker, Penrod and Penrod and Sam by Booth Tarkington, the Jerry Todd series, and also books like Swiss Family Robinson, which I read several times, Bob, Son of Battle (a dog book) by Alfred Ollivant and Nomads of the North by James Oliver Curwood.

      I loved the Oz books, especially the ones by John R. Neill and L. Frank Baum but not Ruth Plumly Thompson.

      I had some of the Landmark series and especially liked The Swamp Fox about Francis Marion.

      Funny, for all the clarity of my memories about the books I owned, I can’t remember a single one I took out of the library.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Along with Pooh (mentioned above):
    “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak,
    “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster
    “Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats
    “But Not the Hippopotamus” by Sandra Boynton (really, any of hers for the super young)
    “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch
    “The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” by E.L. Konigsberg
    “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman (good for middle school-ish)

    …I could probably keep going…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I submitted this to VS yesterday as she was finishing her post on Beverly Cleary. Great minds think alike. She said this was a first, for two baboons to write about the same topic on the same day.

    Speaking of writers, I am wondering how Steve is doing. He has been sort of quiet of late.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The following is a comment and a letter that Kate DiCamillo posted to her FB page this morning. It made me wonder, did any of you write letters to your favorite authors? If you did, did they write back?

    A letter I should have written 50 years ago:
    Dear Beverly Cleary,
    My mom got your book called Ribsy from the library and she read it out loud to me and my brother. Our dog, Nanette, listened to the whole story, too. There was one part where Ribsy has to dress up and wear a hat and smoke a pipe and say his prayers, and it was so funny and my mom laughed and laughed until she cried. I laughed, too. But I was worried about Ribsy. I was worried he would never make it home to the people who loved him. But he did make it home. Do you have a dog? Did your dog ever get lost? This story made me feel worried, but also happy and loved. I am eight years old. Thank you for writing this book. I will never forget it and I will never forget you.
    Kate DiCamillo

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I also have written several authors as an adult. Never as a kid. Almost all the authors I contact respond back to me (or else they’re administrative assistants do. LOL.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. my favorite was writing to kurt vonnegut after he canceled pen pals because of being involved in an apartment fire. i saw him on public television after and invited him to consider trying for his appearance

        his agent wrote back …

        “it’s kind of a schlep”

        that was it

        he died 6 months later


  7. Some of the B Potter ones were a little dull, esp. if read before Child is ready, but I agree, Renee, about the Roly Poly Pudding being one of the most exciting – it was Joel’s favorite.

    I loved reading Winnie the Pooh aloud, and would often chuckle at the humor, much of which is lost on the youngest ones. I remember Dr. Seuss’ Shady Grove (or Shady Glade?) as had an environmental message, and when Joel was working for a construction firm, he said they were the “bad guys” from that book, that ruined the animals’ habitat. : |

    A few more of my favorites not yet mentioned:
    Virginia Lee Burton – Katy and the Big Snow, The Little House, Mike Mulligan the Steam Shovel
    Margaret Wise Brown – The Golden Egg Book, Wait Till the Moon is Full, et al.
    DuBois Heyward The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mile muligans steam shovel…remember the captain kangaroo readings
      hats for sale…
      what was the one about the lemon sucker and the little boy who played harmonica (homer ….)
      as well as mike mulligan

      with tom terrific and his mighty dog manfred

      Liked by 3 people

  8. One of the surprises in my life as a parent is how some of the books that were really meaningful to me haven’t really stood the test of time well. When I was young I plowed through the Little House books, reading them repeatedly. But when YA was younger and I was reading them to her, they didn’t come off well. And she didn’t care for them much.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The Time Life Nature Library.
    I might have been 8 or 9 when my parents signed the family up for the monthly subscription. I and my two younger sisters devoured those books. My kids loved them. None of us pursued science-based careers but the exposure to the natural world through those books gave us a thirst for knowledge just for the sake of knowing and learning.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I had the ‘I Can Read’ series of books. Mom took them when they moved to town and it went through a whole series of grandkids (my nieces and nephews) before I got them back when mom and dad moved into the Senior place.
    There was ‘Big Max’, the detective, there was ‘Little Bear’, ‘Danny the Dinosaur’, ‘Julius’ the gorilla, ‘Pickles, the Fire Cat’, probably more…
    Daughter liked Ramona, Son liked ‘Captain Underpants’, both read endlessly! Daughter still does.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Husband started reading The Book of Three last week. We have all the books in the set, but couldn’t find the second, The Black Cauldron. Son and Daughter loved the set, and said it had a black cover. It is no where to be found, so Husband insists we must order another

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Children’s books are so personally relevant or irrelevant, depending on who is reading them. Some of the ones I loved deeply don’t seem to resonate with younger people. Some don’t even seem all that relevant to me anymore. I used to love Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and the Five Little Peppers, but when I look at them now, I can’t recall why they appealed so strongly to me when I was a kid.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder. I adored the books, and they still tug at me and enthrall me. But I hesitate to leave copies in Little Free librairies, because of some of the racial stereotypes. There are troublesome depictions of native people, including a now infamous passage where Laura’s Ma is quoted as saying “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”, and there is also a reference a later book to a performance in which Pa dresses up in blackface in a minstrel show, which is greeted with great hilarity. Not so funny in today’s world.

    My older niece disliked Laura Ingalls Wilder from the getgo. There are so many times when Laura describes things like getting an orange or a tin cup for Christmas, or a corncob doll, and explains how precious those things were to her at the time. My niece dismissed all of that contemptuously, and regarded it as just an adult being preachy about how young people these days don’t appreciate how good they have it…feeling that no kid would want to get an orange and a tin cup for Christmas, that that was just GARBAGE, kids want TOYS, and don’t try to tell me otherwise, I’m just not buying that.

    A lot of kids’ books deal with story lines that have kids living apart from their parents or adult supervision. That’s very seductive idea when you’re a kid, but as an adult, you look at those situations and find them sort of appalling. The Boxcar Children was like that, I think, and also Pippi Longstocking, My Side of the Mountain, and the Island of the Blue Dolphins. In retrospect, they seem to be about lost or neglected kids in peril.

    I was a year or two too old to have read the Beverly Cleary books, but I remember selling a lot of them when I worked for B. Dalton. It’s nice that Beverly Cleary lived to such an advanced age She had a good life.

    I have a new great-nephew, born last Friday, so I suppose the debate about which kids; books are worthy and which aren’t will go on into the next generation.

    I have never written to an author. Maybe I should. It would be fun to get an answer back.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I wrote to Hank Ketchum, author / illustrator of Dennis the Menace, my favorite cartoon as a kid. I got back a stamped “autographed” drawing of Dennis. Lost it shortly after. No idea what happen to it. Still miss it.
    I also had an autographed picture of Flip Wilson. Lost that too. Rotten kid.
    Thanks to mom for finding addresses and mailing letters. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  13. As you can imagine, most of the books mentioned here were not part of my childhood. Before I could read – and I didn’t learn how to until I started school at seven years of age – I had to rely on mom, or dad when he was home. Mom’s reading was limited to nursery rhymes, and dad would read H.C. Andersen fairy tales. What children’s literature I was exposed to otherwise was read out loud to us in the daycare my sister and I attended while mom went to work.

    I owned a hardbound copy of Alice in Wonderland, in English, but of course, I couldn’t read, and certainly not English, so I’d look at the illustrations and make up my own stories. Not surprisingly, they bore no resemblance to Lewis Carroll’s original work.

    Once I could read, it was pretty haphazard what I read. At the boarding school I assume that our literature was pretty carefully screened, but from I was eleven on, the only adult guidance would have been from librarians. I’m sure my reading was influenced in part by what we were exposed to in school, so a lot of Scandinavian authors, with a smattering of old British and some more contemporary American authors.

    Liked by 2 people

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