Today is the 101st birthday of writer Beverly Cleary (books by this author) (1916), the creator of Ramona Quimby, an irascible, imaginative, feisty little girl who continues to transfix children more than 60 years after first appearing in the book Henry Huggins (1950). There are more than 91 million copies of Beverly Cleary books in print.
Cleary’s books tackled difficult subjects—like Ramona’s father losing his job and trying to quit smoking—with grace and humor, but minus the moralistic tone she remembered from the books of her childhood. She said, “I wrote books to entertain. I’m not trying to teach anything.” Her books include Beezus and Ramona (1955), The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965), Ramona the Pest (1968), and Ralph the Mouse (1982).
You can visit Ramona, Ribsy, and Henry Huggins at the Portland, Oregon, “Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden.”
On why Ramona Quimby struck such a nerve with young girls, Beverly Cleary answered: “Because [Ramona] does not learn to be a better girl. I was so annoyed with the books in my childhood, because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona […] and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the way she expected.” Ramona Quimby has a doll named Chevrolet and campaigned to name her baby sister Aston Martin.