With witty yet economic prose and a gift for recalling the inner emotions of childhood, Beverly Cleary wove timeless tales that took young readers back to the Portland, Ore., of her youth.
Her stories served as a collective touchstone for the childhoods of many baby boomers, and succeeding generations, who saw themselves in the pages of her work.Cleary died Thursday in Carmel, where she had lived since the 1960s. She was 104.
The grande dame of children’s literature, she wrote both humorously and realistically about the anxieties of childhood in such enduringly popular books as “Henry Huggins” and “Beezus and Ramona.”
A former children’s librarian, Cleary became one of the most popular authors of American children’s books, penning more than 30 titles over five decades that sold 85 million copies around the world.
More than a decade ago, the Library of Congress declared Cleary a living legend, and her birthday, April 12, is celebrated with Drop Everything and Read Day, held annually in U.S. libraries and schools.
“She showed me that the inner life of any child, the dynamics of family and pets, can be captured as rich, comic, fascinating, poignant and meaningful,” Susan Patron, a Newbery Medal-winning novelist and former youth services librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, told The Times in 2011.