Beverly Cleary is an American children's author.
Her largest and best-known collection of books (too loose-knit to be really a "series", although there is a chronological order) involves a group of children that includes Henry Huggins (and his dog Ribsy), Henry's friend Beatrice "Beezus" Quimby and her little sister Ramona, and Ramona's friend Howie Kemp. Ramona
is the break-out star character of the series. They were adapted into a TV series in the 1980s (called Ramona
), and a movie (called Ramona and Beezus
) was released in 2010.
Another well-known series by Beverly Cleary begins with The Mouse and the Motorcycle
, about a mouse who befriends a lonely boy and discovers a useful but never-quite-explained ability to drive toy vehicles as if they were real
Part of what makes the books work so well is the portrayal of various events that are a huge deal to a child. Beverly Cleary's insight into the minds of children also creates a large cast of very realistic characters easy for both children and adults to relate to.
Her birthday, April 12th, is designated as "Drop Everything and Read Day" in American elementary schools, in which lessons stop and the students simply read whatever they want silently.
Works by Beverly Cleary with their own trope pages include:
Beverly Cleary's other works provide examples of:
- Arc Words: In Otis Spofford, various adults keep warning Otis that "[he'll] get his comeuppance."
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: One of the central themes of Mitch and Amy. Happens between Ramona and Beezus too.
- The Bully: Alan Hibbler and his older friend Dwight in Mitch and Amy. Henry Huggins' older friend Scooter briefly turns into a bully when he and Henry get into competition for a paper route.
- A Day in the Limelight:
- Beezus and Ramona is the first to focus on those characters after they'd played a supporting role in the Henry Huggins books, and the only book written from Beezus' point of view.
- Ribsy centers around Henry's eponymous dog.
- Otis Spofford, whose title character originally had a supporting role in Ellen Tebbits.
- Disappeared Dad: Ralph S. Mouse's dad was killed some time before the first book by an aspirin pill. He was carrying it in his cheek and it dissolved.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked in Otis Spofford when Otis cuts Ellen's hair and rather than laugh, the class just stares at Otis.
- Dungeon Bypass: In Ralph S. Mouse, the kids build a maze for Ralph to run. Ralph climbs on top of the walls to look for the cheese, to the annoyance of the kids (who were building the maze to see how smart Ralph was in the first place).
- Everybody Hates Mathematics: In Mitch and Amy Amy hates math. Mitch on the other hand is good at math but hates reading.
- The Generic Guy: Henry's best friend Robert. His personality was pretty much the same as Henry's but less developed. Unlike many Generic Guys, Robert was an important character all the way through the Henry Huggins series.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Ellen Tebbits's plan to bring in a biennial beet to class results in her making her clothes filthy from digging the beet up, and ruining her dress by getting it stained with beet juice. Plus she almost gets in a lot of trouble for taking the beet without permission, and got written up for arriving to school late.
- He Also Did: Cleary wrote three novels tied in with Leave It to Beaver. She also wrote two autobiographies, some YA books like Fifteen and Sister of the Bride, and Socks, which was done in the point of view of the family cat.
- Heel-Face Turn: In Ralph S. Mouse, Brad is introduced as a mean kid and borderline bully who punches Ryan in a fight and breaks Ralph's motorcycle. After Ryan and Brad actually talk, they end up becoming friends and Brad gives Ralph a car to replace the motorcycle.
- Humiliation Conga:
- Happens to the bully Alan at the end of Mitch and Amy, starting when he loudly and publicly misspells a word and ends when he gets leg swept by a girl.
- Happens to Otis Spofford at the end of his book. Ellen and Austine steal his shoes while he's ice skating in retaliation for Otis' having cut Ellen's hair, making him walk home in his ice skates to the amusement of all the kids and irritation of all the adults he meets.
- Insufferable Genius: Murph from the Henry Huggins series, at first. He lightens up.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Ralph S. Mouse can drive toy vehicles by making the appropriate noises. And drive them in reverse by making the noises backwards.
- Jerkass: Otis Spofford. Played straight in Ellen Tebbits and deconstructed in his own book.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Scooter McCarthy. He often gives Henry a hard time but defends him when he's really upset. He also gets better in the later books.
- Let Him Choose: In one of the books with Henry and Ribsy, Ribsy's original owner shows up and wants his dog back. They decide to let Ribsy choose. He goes with Henry, of course.
- No Smoking: Surprisingly averted in Mitch and Amy when Dwight lights up a cigarette. Of course, he choked on it and made a fool of himself.
- Playground Song: "Great Green Globs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts" makes an appearance in one of the Ralph S. Mouse books.
- Polar Opposite Twins: Mitch and Amy in Mitch and Amy.
- Radish Cure: In Otis Spofford, the title character's teacher has him make spitballs exclusively as punishment for shooting them. Cleary also includes a story in her autobiography of some boys who chewed garlic in class. The principal finally bought a dollar's worth of garlic—this was in the 1930s—and had them chew it all.
- Running Gag: Beezus trouncing Henry at checkers.
- Serious Business: Frequently. Justified in that the books are told from a child's perspective, in which things like paper routes and school art projects really are serious business.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Ellen Tebbits and Otis Spofford.
- Surprisingly Functional Toys: The Mouse and the Motorcycle and sequels.
- Unintentional Period Piece: The Henry Huggins series in general for the 1950s. Henry and his friends never play videogames and rarely watch TV, and they do things like compete over paper routes and scrounge for junk to sell to the garbage man.