Children’s author Beverly Cleary will turn 100 years old April 12!
She wrote many books, but The Mouse and the Motorcycle, the Ramona books, and the Henry Huggins books, are among her most famous.
I was introduced to her when I was in either kindergarten or first grade. My teacher read a story to us about a girl with boing-boing curls. However, I didn’t know the name of the book or remember the characters’ names.
I went on to become a voracious reader, mostly books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisea May Alcott, the Nancy Drew series, and books about dogs or horses.
Somehow I managed to grow up without coming across the story of the boing-boing curls again.
When I became interested in writing for children, I became a regular patron of our local town’s children’s library and often browsed the shelves.
That’s how I found the Beverly Cleary books. I remembered The Mouse and the Motorcycle from my childhood, but I hadn’t read any of the Ramona books. I had a vague idea this series of books was famous, so I started reading my way through them.
Lo and behold, those boing-boing curls are in Ramona the Pest!
I really like Ramona! She reminds me what it’s like to be a child, and how a child thinks–understanding more than adults realize, but often getting things mixed up.
During the past few weeks, in honor of Cleary’s birthday, I’ve been revisiting the Ramona series. Except this time I’m listening to the audio version, narrated by Stockard Channing. The stories often make me smile!
Have you read any of Cleary’s books? How did her stories affect you?
Welcome to 2016! We like to observe anniversaries, especially major ones–like centennials, or centenaries. Here are a few events, both sad and happy, that occurred in 1916:
- Much of the world was embroiled in the Great War (WWI), but the U.S. was trying to avoid being dragged into it. Verdun was the big battle in France; it lasted ten months. There were other battles, including the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Jutland/Skagerrak. President Wilson was re-elected on the platform of staying out of the war. However, early 1917, Pres. Wilson requests a declaration of war.
- Pancho Villa and about 1,500 men leave Mexico and make a raid in New Mexico. U.S. General “Black Jack” Pershing chases Villa back into Mexico. What was up with this? It’s something I’d like to know more about.
- James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small, was born on March 10 (or Oct. 3 or Oct. 13–I’ve seen all three dates). He was one of my favorite authors when I was about twelve. I wanted to be a veterinarian, partly because of his stories.
- One of the best movie actors ever–Gregory Peck–was born on April 5.
- Beverly Cleary, author of the Ramona books (among others) was born on April 12. Her character, Ramona Quimby, is one of my all-time favorite characters.
- Explorer Ernest Shackleton and all his crew from the Endurance escape–and survive–from their entrapment in Antarctic ice.
- The National Park Service was created on Aug. 25.
- Jeannette Rankin (R-Montana) is the first elected congresswoman on Nov. 11.
- And, finally, James L. Kraft patents tinned processed cheese. The following year, these tins of cheese, produced by Kraft and his brothers, become food for WWI soldiers.
I’ve barely scratched the surface. What other 1916 events would you add?