Happy 96th Beverly Cleary!

I’m not saying I wouldn’t have had some kind of childhood without the books of Beverly Cleary, but I think it’s fair to say it might not have been much of one.  And I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way.  Henry Huggins, his dog Ribsy, Beezus and Ramona and all the other children and residents of Klickitat Street were sometimes more real to me than the world outside my own front door.  From the introduction of Henry Huggins in 1950 Beverly Cleary has probably done more for children’s literature, or literature in general for that matter, than any other author.  For the first time children could finally pick up her books and read about children just like themselves.  And that’s no small accomplishment.  So it’s no wonder that along the way Beverly Cleary has won three Newbery Awards.  A National Medal of Arts.  And The Library of Congress has named her a Living Legend.  Today she is 96.  Happy Birthday Beverly, from Henry, Ribsy, Beezus, Ramona, and me.  As well as countless children around the world whose lives and hearts you touched.

“Quite often somebody will say, ‘What year do your books take place?’ and the only answer I can give is, in childhood.”
― Beverly Cleary

Charlotte’s Web

Blogging about E. B. White on National Grammar Day put his all time classic Charlotte’s Web into my head and now I find I can not get it out.  This is one of the very first books I remember reading, and I can tell you exactly when and where I was when I received it.  Christmas morning, 18 degrees below zero, a new pair of pajamas, a fire in the grate and a brand new book by someone I had never heard of before in my then very short life.  Little did I know when I cracked the spine what awaited me.  Life.  Death.  Friendship.  And everything in between explained in the gentle tones of a talking spider hanging by E. B. White’s imaginary thread.  Needless to say I reread this classic this week and I can only say it stands the test of time.  Do not see the movie.  Do not buy the audio book.  Sit down and turn the pages slowly, stopping to linger over the beautiful illustrations by Garth Williams and open your mind and heart.  You will be rewarded.  I promise.  It is some book.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
― E.B. WhiteCharlotte’s Web

“Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
― E.B. WhiteCharlotte’s Web

“Trust me, Wilbur. People are very gullible. They’ll believe anything they see in print.”
― E.B. WhiteCharlotte’s Web

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

The Cat In The Hat maintains a strict triple meter and contains 236 distinct words.  

Only one word, “another”, is more than two syllables. 

I’m a day late, but I couldn’t let another minute go by without pausing to send best wishes to the memory of the author who probably did as much or more than anyone in this country to make children fall in love with reading.  Given the other books that children were expected to read at the time, this one really is pretty amazing.  If you honestly haven’t read it, and I can’t imagine anyone hasn’t, you might want to take a minute and sit down and see once and for all what all the fuss is about.

And with that, I’ll let the Dr. speak for himself.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true.

There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
― Dr. SeussHappy Birthday to You!