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Video:Beverly Cleary Profile

with Anita Silvey

Learn more about the life and work of famed children's book author, Beverly Cleary.See Transcript

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Transcript:Beverly Cleary Profile

I’m Anita Silvey, author of Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book and the Children’s Book a Day Almanac online. And, I’m here for About.com. Let’s talk about the work and life of Beverly Cleary.

The Life of Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary provided an autobiography of her life for anyone interested in reading it. It’s a fascinating. It’s called A Girl From Yam Hill. And the intriguing thing about her biography is her work is so sunny. It's just so filled with the joys of childhood, and the small instance of childhood. That one might think "oh this is just someone who had a perfect childhood." She’s just recapturing it. And, she was honest in the book to talk about that it was a less than perfect childhood. And she was constantly disappointing the adults in her life. That she had a lot of troubles in school. And, in many ways her books are not about the childhood she had, but the childhood she would have liked to have had.

Start as a Children's Librarian

She was trained as a children’s librarian. She went to work as a children’s librarian. And then she quickly discovered that on the shelves of her library there were not the kind of books that her kids wanted her to read. But, she said, there weren’t a lot of stories. Just about children who experienced the ups and downs of being a kindergartner.

The Books of Beverly Cleary

And, so she decided that she was going to have to write those stories if they were ever going to be done, she would create them. And, she began with her series about Henry Huggins and you know, his dog Ribsy, and it’s a boy and a dog story basically. With the kind of things that occur in every day childhood.

And, taking a minor role in the Henry Huggins book was a little girl. And she starts to get a little bit more major role. And, she is the bratty younger sister of a character called Beezus. And her name is Ramona. And Beverly Cleary said that she, Ramona was calling for a story. But, she knew that Ramona would be at kindergarten level. And, that she, herself, had never been to kindergarten. And she said "how can I write about what I’ve never done?" And, then she had twins. And then both twins had to go through kindergarten. And she said, the great thing about having twins is you feel you have double the experience. She said I figured I knew as much as any mother in America about what went on in kindergarten. She took her heroine, Ramona, in to kindergarten. And became what became her most successful series of books, about this irrepressible, absolutely independent thinker – who experiences school the way real children experience school.

“Hello Ramona," she said. "My name is Miss Beiny," she said speaking each syllable distinctly as she pinned Ramona's name to her dress. I am so glad that you have come to kindergarten. Then she took Ramona by the hand and led her to one of the little tables and chairs. Sit here for the present, she said with a smile.

A present, thought Ramona, and knew at once that she was going to like Miss Beiny.”

Awards

Beverly Cleary would win the Newberry Award for a book called Dear Mr. Henshaw. She's done other books, she's done picture books. She has a wide range of variety. But, I don’t think anyone has ever been as loved as this little girl who sat waiting in kindergarten for the present and completely misunderstands what’s going on.

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