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Everyone Needs a Ramona

I was a voracious reader growing up. I gorged on heaps of nonfiction from the public library, signing out all the shark books one day, clearing out every last volcano title the following week. I read Archie comics from the drugstore and dusty poetry books borrowed from the barn of the antique-books dealer who lived […]

Dear Mrs. Cleary

Looking back, I’m amazed at the impact Beverly Cleary’s books had on my life, as both a reader and a writer. The first Cleary book I remember reading was The Mouse and the Motorcycle, which featured a talking rodent named Ralph who could ride a toy motorcycle just by saying “pb-pb-b-b-b.” I had just seen […]

Happy 100th Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

April 12, 2016 marks the one hundredth birthday of children’s literature icon Beverly Cleary. To celebrate, the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine includes a series of tributes to the author and her work written by children’s book authors, illustrators, editors, and librarians whose lives and work were touched by Ms. Cleary. Each […]

Ramona in the 21st-Century Library

“‘Oh, did people write that in those days, too?’ Beezus was surprised, because she had thought this was something very new to write in an autograph album…” (Beezus and Ramona) Sometimes a book becomes quickly dated, and sometimes it easily crosses decades or generations. Beezus finds this is also true for autograph albums, and she […]

“Dear Mr. Zelinsky”

This is a lesson in overcoming assumptions. The mail I receive from readers trends strongly to the appreciative; it’s rare that anything remotely critical comes in, so I’m sure I’m completely spoiled. When I read this letter from a class near Philadelphia and saw that they were questioning a scene in the background of one […]

Books in the Home: The Boy Ramona

After a particularly hard day at school, my then nine-year-old son, Rory, forlornly and aptly announced, “I think I’m the boy Ramona.” Rory is thirteen now, and he continues to turn to books and their characters for escape and solace as he sets out to slay the particular dragon that he and Beverly Cleary’s protagonist […]