Beverly Atlee Cleary (April 12, 1916 March 25, 2021) was 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 in Portland, Oregon (where Cleary herself grew up), including 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. 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" (DEAR, as introduced in Ramona Quimby, Age 8) in American elementary schools, in which lessons stop and the students simply read whatever they want silently.
Cleary lived to be 104 years old. When asked, on her 100th birthday, if she had any tips for such longevity, she simply said, "I didn't do it on purpose."
Works by Beverly Cleary with their own trope pages include:
- Henry Huggins series
- Ramona Quimby series
- Ellen and Otis series
- Ralph S. Mouse series
- Dear Mr. Henshaw (her only book to win the Newbery Medal)
- Emily's Runaway Imagination
- Mitch and Amy
Beverly Cleary's other works provide examples of:
- Novelization: Cleary wrote three soft-cover novels based on Leave It to Beaver in the early '60s.
- Radish Cure: Cleary included a story in her autobiography of some boys who chewed garlic in class. The principal finally bought a dollar's worth of garlicnote and had them chew it all. Although Otis chews garlic himself in his self-titled book (as a way to get rid of the taste in his mouth after the "spitball incident"), he does not get punished for it. He does, however, get a Radish Cure for making spitballs.
- Serious Business: The main characters tend to take a lot of things very seriously, even though their problems would seem very minor from an adult's point of view. Justified since the books are told from a child's perspective, in which things like paper routes and school art projects really are serious business.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: While her books portray the ups and downs of life, her books usually have a much lighter spirit, making it more on the idealistic end of the scale.
- The Tetris Effect: In Strider, Leigh, the narrator, has a job sweeping floors. He says he feels like he can see the floors' tile pattern in his sleep.