Author Tribute: Beverly Cleary

“Beverly Cleary wrote the Ramona books, right?” my husband looked up from his phone for my response and I knew why he must be asking. “She died.”

“GODDAMNIT!” I yelled and punched the couch I sat on. I was already having a rough week so this news hit especially hard.

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One of the earliest posts I wrote for this blog was about what it’s like to share my name with Ramona Quimby. I’m going to borrow from it today.

I wasn’t named after Ramona Q, but having my name in common with her drew me to these books as a child. Discovering there was not one, but multiple books with a character who shared my name was fascinating at a young age, when I’d not yet encountered another person named Ramona.

I have Beverly Cleary to thank for a lifetime of being comfortable with a unique name. While my name is uncommon, thanks for these books, it’s not unheard of. Rarely does someone have trouble pronouncing it.

Ramona Q was the first literary character I connected with. I related to her in many ways. While she had an older sister and I’m an only child, I understood her desire for her parents’ love and attention, and her good intentions that didn’t necessarily always go as she hoped. I spent many a weekend morning propped up in bed reading these books, laughing out loud at Ramona’s silliness. In this other Ramona, I found a kindred spirit.

The Ramona books aren’t the only of Beverly Cleary’s works that resonated with me as a kid. I was crazy about the Ralph S. Mouse series too. Her books made me laugh and gave me other kids to relate to, because that wasn’t happening much at school.

I can say without a doubt that Beverly Cleary’s books played a huge role in me becoming a lifelong reader. I am grateful for all the stories and characters she gave us.

I’d love to hear about your connection to her books. Who was your favorite of her characters?

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