You Don’t DO That to Beverly Cleary!


March/April 2016 Horn Book MagazneHusband Guy came home to find me digging a pit in our front yard. He recognized the little storm cloud over my head, so he knew what to ask:

“Who irked you now?”

“The mailman!” I said, tossing another shovelful of Jersey dirt. “He bent Beverly Cleary!”

Husband Guy arched one eyebrow like I can’t do without Scotch tape. “The mailman bent…?”

I tossed Husband Guy my creased Horn Book Magazine. “I finally got my ‘Happy 100th Birthday, Beverly Cleary!’ issue and the mailman bent it!”

I dug faster. “So, I’m gonna catch him in this Pit of Ouchy Doom! You don’t do that to Beverly Cleary, creator of—”

“Ramona Geraldine Quimby, your Mischief Spirit Animal,” Husband Guy finished.

“Ramona Geraldine Quimby, my Mischief Spirit Animal!” I declared.

I blinked. “Have I mentioned this before?”

Husband Guy made himself comfy on the edge of my Pit of Ouchy Doom. “Go on,” he said. “Get it out of your system.”

“Ramona Geraldine Quimby,” I said, warming up my speech and my shovel. “Rider of indoor tricycles! Displayer of scabs! Signer of library books—"

“Mischief-we-do-not-approve-of-but-it-was-funny,” Husband Guy recited under his breath.

“Mischief we do not approve of but it was funny!” I continued.

“Ramona Geraldine Quimby! Dragger of imaginary lizards! Licker of other people’s lollipops—”

“That isn’t sanitary,” interrupted Husband Guy.

I paused to pick a worm out of my hair. “Mischief can be messy,” I said.

“I see,” said Husband Guy. “Carry on.”

Beverly Cleary Tweet“Ramona Geraldine Quimby!” I carried on, digging faster. “Chomper of apples! Planner of unauthorized parties! Slayer of birthday cakes!”

“Thank you for not doing that on my birthday,” Husband Guy said. “Again.”

“Restraint was difficult,” I admitted. “Where was I?”

“Ramona Geraldine Quimby,” Husband Guy prompted.

“Ramona Geraldine Quimby!” I cried, digging faster still. “Puller of boing-boing curls! Quitter of kindergarten! Scruncher of owls!”

“EW!” Husband Guy said.

“Scruncher of paper-bag owls,” I corrected. “You always forget that one.”

And,” I said, soil and storylines flying, “Yeller of ‘GUTS!’ Wearer of burrs! Squeezer of toothpaste! Spiller of bluing! Smuggler of pajamas! Runner-away-er! Squeaker of shoes! Whacker of eggs! DESTROYER OF CEILINGS—”

The front door opened. “Shhh, Mom!” The Kid scolded. “The neighbors’ll think you’re weird! Again.”

Then she spied my Horn Book. “Beverly Cleary!” she said. “I call dibs!”

She plopped next to Husband Guy at the edge of my Pit of Ouchy Doom…

And folded the cover back.

Husband Guy shielded his eyes.

But I did not explode. “Ramona Geraldine Quimby,” I sighed. “My Mischief Spirit Animal… and role model Drop Everything And Read-er.”

“Sustained Silent Reader,” The Kid corrected, without looking up from her Sustained Silent Reading.

I was so focused on tossing worms up into her hair unnoticed, I didn’t notice when our mailman returned.

“Not bad,” he said, admiring my Pit. “But you forgot your ladder.”

He turned to The Kid. “That’s a good issue,” he said, smiling his own mischievous smile. “I read it last week. Everyone loves Beverly Cleary.”

Happy 100th Birthday, Beverly Cleary! For more, click the tag Beverly Cleary at 100.
Ame Dyckman
Ame Dyckman
Ame Dyckman lives in central New Jersey with her family, book collection, and Pit of Ouchy Doom, where she’s been stuck since Horn Book’s March/April 2016 issue. She’s the author of the picture books Wolfie the Bunny, Horrible Bear!, and others. Follow Ame on Twitter: @AmeDyckman.
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Stacy L Asch

Happy Birthday Beverly! I am soon to be 56 and remember so fondly absolutely consuming your books as a child! I remember the long lovely walk to the library each week, the quiet, gentle librarians who smiled at my youthful enthusiasm and adoration of books. I recall the walk home as joyful but often difficult because ten books (thank goodness they had a limit) were often heavy and my arms would ache. Sometimes I took the red wagon loaded up with bottles for the grocery across the street from the library then leisurely perused the dime store next door for the longest time. Final and most delicious destination.. Book heaven. I remain an insatiable bookstore still. Thank you, wonderful, beautiful lady ... for the delightful memories and the hours of bliss spent in your books. I am overjoyed with sentimental tears in my bespectacled eyes to be able to wish you the happiest of birthdays ever.

Posted : Apr 11, 2016 02:31

Jane Parent

Loved this! You have a new old fan of Beverly Cleary!

Posted : Apr 10, 2016 06:52


The mailman really digs it in at the conclusion. The husband's reactions are priceless. Poor birthday cake.

Posted : Apr 08, 2016 03:38

Joseph Miller

LOL! Hope you eventually were offered a ladder by Husband Guy or The Kid.

Posted : Apr 06, 2016 08:11

Elissa Gershowitz


Posted : Apr 06, 2016 06:14


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