On the occasion of beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday last year, Jezebel’s Kate Dries penned a lovely profile of the woman who brought us Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins, and gave generations of children a gentle nudge into a lifetime of loving books.
That Cleary eventually ended up writing children’s books feels the way the paths of a great many talented people feel: both inevitable and magical, the result of a lot of hard work mixed with a certain amount of luck. Upon becoming a librarian after school, she recalls another librarian wondering about how she could get to be so good at her job:
“Miss Remsberg also said that she did not understand why the children had liked me so much; I treated them the same way I treated adults, of course. That was the way I had wanted to be treated as a child.”
Remember, as Cleary does, it would be years before “the labels ‘teenager’ and ‘young adult’” would even be used regularly. Back then, to look at young people this way, you had to be extraordinarily interested in understanding the emotional states of an age group that was almost always overlooked. Cleary did; she had a firm grasp of the reality that children have complex inner lives, and this sensibility made her books break through.
Happy 101st, Ms. Cleary!