Thinking About Beverly Cleary’s Books

Beverly Cleary’s books belong to my childhood. I well remember enjoying and identifying with Beezus as we both had annoying little sisters. Yes, Ramona was cute and pert and spunky, but I went for the stories featuring her older sister and her friend Henry most of all. And growing up in the 50s and 60s Midwest, I saw plenty of similarities to my life and that of the children in those early books. I was all grown-up by the time Ramona the Brave came out and assumed that it meant less to me than the others because I was no longer identifying with the characters as I had as a kid. Now an intriguing consideration of Cleary’s books by Benjamin Schwartz in The Atlantic, “My Ramona”  has me reconsidering that stance. For Schwartz makes a most interesting observation, positing that there is a shift in style and quality with the publication of Ramona the Brave. A very interesting piece, well worth reading. (ETA A twitter conversation this AM has me less convinced of Schwartz’s thesis.  Suspect it is more about when you encounter then books and which ones speak to you when you do rather than anything else.)

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2 responses to “Thinking About Beverly Cleary’s Books

  1. very interesting; thanks so much for the link. (also hadn’t known about cleary’s memoirs — definitely want to read those!) ramona herself was such a vibrant character to me, i didn’t notice the big schism schwartz points out between the earlier and later books. (i did note that they became more “issues-y,” but didn’t think it was a flaw.) now i want to go back and re-read and ponder whether the later books are less timeless and more hack-y. fascinating piece.

    wish schwartz hadn’t gotten so defensive in the comments. that was odd.

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