By Andrea King

One woman writer who probably had the largest influence on me is Beverly Cleary. When I was younger, I loved Ramona Quimby’s imagination, understood Ellen Tebbits ’ awkwardness, and sympathized with Leigh Botts’ confusion.  When we were asked to write about women writers, I jumped at the chance to write about the woman who brought all these characters (plus many, many others) to life.

Beverly Bunn was born in 1916 in frontier Oregon to parents who came from hardy pioneer ancestors. Beverly realized she always wanted to be a children’s librarian even though times were financially straining to get her through college and then library (graduate) school. She was not able to become a children’s librarian right after college so she worked in several other libraries until that dream finally came to fruition.  

When she knew she and her husband, Clarence Cleary, could afford for her to pursue her next dream of becoming an author of children’s books, she was so excited. It took some time and determination but she finally got her first book, Henry and Ribsy, written and published! Beverly knew she had to write after a group of young boys who were her library customers asked her, “Where are the books about us?”

Beverly Cleary at (almost) 102 years old lives a quiet and unassuming life in Oregon. I have always enjoyed reading her stories and have kept several in my own personal collection. Her life is just as fascinating as her stories so I enjoy reading about her, as well. This writer sees her books as classics and Beverly Cleary as one remarkable woman!

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