Beverly Cleary turns 100! A bronze statue of Ramona Quimby stands in the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children in Portland, Oregon. (lance_mountain, Flickr/Creative Commons))
Beverly Cleary turns 100!
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Beloved children's books can feel timeless, and so there's some kind of poetic justice when their authors live long lives. Think Maurice Sendak, author of "Where the Wild Things Are," who only recently died at age 84. Or the writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, she died at age 90. But some authors outlast nearly all of their counterparts, even as their stories continue to charm kids who are a mere fraction of their age.
 
Beverly Cleary, who turned 100 on April 12, is one in that small but esteemed group. The Oregon-based author is best known for kids' classics like "Henry Huggins", "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" and "Ramona Quimby, Age 8." Over the years, she's sold more than 91 million copies of her 39 books worldwide. Her career has been lauded with everything from multiple Newbery Medals and Honors to a "Living Legend" designation from the Library of Congress.
 
If you've ever adventured along with the Quimby girls on Klickitat Street, you may know that Cleary is almost synonymous with Portland, Oregon. She spent much of her young life in the city and turned her real-life experiences into children's books that incorporate real places that can still be visited today. And perhaps the perfect cherry on top of a Cleary-themed jaunt through the rose-studded city is a trip to the sculpture garden built in her honor in Grant Park in northeast Portland.
 
The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children was built within the park in 1991 by a group of librarians, teachers and Portland locals eager to pay tribute to their favorite author of children's books. The park itself is featured in several Cleary books. It is most memorable as the site where Henry Huggins frantically digs up nightcrawlers. It features life-sized statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Huggins' dog, Ribsy. Quotes from the books and fountains make the garden even more fun. Cleary-curious travelers can also find a neighborhood map at the park that tells them how to investigate other local sites related to the author.
 
Want to take your Cleary sculptural viewing to another level in honor of her 100th? Stop by the Multnomah County Library's central branch and see if you can find a plaque featuring a depiction of the timeless (and, seemingly, ageless) author.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do beloved children's books feel timeless?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (7)
  • holdeno-3-bar
    4/15/2016 - 12:25 p.m.

    Famous children's books feel timeless because everyone can relate to them. When talking about Beverly Cleary, the author said that "[her] stories continue to charm kids who are a mere fraction of their age" (par. 1) Cleary's stories still are just as interesting today as they were many years ago. They are made so everyone can draw connections between the books and their life. This establishes a connection to the reader that will last for a long time.
    I was surprised that Beverly Cleary is still alive. My favorite book by her is "Dear Mr. Henshaw".

  • eliset-bag
    4/18/2016 - 11:12 p.m.

    I haven't read a Beverly Cleary book but, I would like to read the book Ramona Quimby Age 8.

  • tayces-lam
    4/19/2016 - 10:47 a.m.

    I remember reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle as a kid and thinking about how it feels to be "the new guy" and needing a friend to relate to.

  • ravend-bag
    4/19/2016 - 07:12 p.m.

    I've read the mouse and the motorcycle, and it was the best!!! I loved all of her books and I'm glad that she is still alive. She should be the eight wonder of the world!!!!

  • aliciac-4-bar
    4/28/2016 - 10:18 p.m.

    Children's books appeal to everyone because everyone is either a child themselves or had a childhood. Children's books like those written by Ms. Cleary highlight the more candid, trivial parts of childhood that everyone has experienced.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    7/25/2016 - 11:18 p.m.

    Beloved children's books feel timeless because people can refer to them all throughout their lives, as a child themselves and then with their children and grandchildren. Visiting sites that some of Clearly's books mention would be pretty cool, making the stories that much more relatable and current.

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