As a special present for Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday in April, HarperCollins has re-released three of her most beloved books with illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers and forewords by some of her most famous fans.
The books also include a rare interview with the author herself, who has spoken to the media only once since 2011, to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Cleary is the award-wining author of more than 35 books for children and young adults, and two memoirs. She also created some of the most iconic characters in children’s fiction.
That includes the fearless Ramona Quimby and irreverent Henry Huggins, characters Cleary created to give children the kinds of books she had searched for but never found on library shelves in Portland, Ore., when she was young.
Birthday celebrations for Cleary, who now lives in California, are already planned at libraries in Oregon and Salt Lake City.
“She’s the gold standard and there will never be another Ramona, for sure,” said Grace Kendall, a children’s book editor at Farrar Straus Giroux.
“Those were some of the books that got me and kept me reading.”
Ramona first appeared on the page in 1955, but the magic of Cleary’s writing is that she captures the universal experiences of childhood, Kendall said.
“To me it’s not so much about the time period, it’s about being human.”
Here’s a look at what her famous fans had to say about Cleary.
Actress Amy Poehler
On Ramona Quimby, Age 8
“In today’s world, where people are always searching for ‘strong female characters,’ Mrs. Cleary was ahead of her time. Ramona was a pest! She was irascible and uncompromising! She was allowed to be angry and was not afraid to stand up to boys!”
Author Kate DiCamillo
On The Mouse and the Motorcycle
“I had read Beverly Cleary’s book The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and I knew that the objects and people and mice of the world were not at all as they seemed on the surface. I knew that, in the right circumstances, mice could do impossible, improbable things. For instance, they could ride motorcycles.”
Author Judy Blume
On Henry Huggins
“I wish I’d had Beverly Cleary’s books to read when I was growing up. But by the time Henry Huggins was published I was twelve years old and thought of myself as too grown up for children’s books. Big mistake! I’m just glad I got to read them when I was starting out as a writer. I’m not sure there would be a Peter and Fudge if I hadn’t.”