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Adored children's books can feel timeless. When their authors live long lives, there's some kind of poetic justice. One example is Maurice Sendak who is the author of "Where the Wild Things Are." He recently died at age 84. Or think of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who died at age 90. But some authors outlast nearly all of their counterparts. This is even as their stories continue to charm kids who are a mere fraction of their age.
Beverly Cleary turned 100 on April 12. She is one in that small but respected 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. They have sold all over the world. Her career has been praised with everything from multiple Newbery Medals and Honors to a "Living Legend" designation. The latter came 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. Then she turned her real-life experiences into children's books. They 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. It was built in her honor in Grant Park in northeast Portland.
The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children was built within the park in 1991. It was constructed by a group of librarians, teachers and Portland locals. They were 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. The map tells them how to explore 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. See if you can find a plaque featuring a depiction of the timeless (and, seemingly, ageless) author.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do beloved children's books feel timeless?
Write your answers in the comments section below