Beverly Cleary, Children’s Author of ‘Ramona’ Books and ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle,’ Dies at 104

“Ramona” series of books was adapted for 2010 feature film “Ramona and Beezus”

Last Updated: March 26, 2021 @ 2:56 PM

Beverly Cleary, the beloved children’s book author of the “Ramona” series and “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” has died. She was 104.

Yes, 104. Cleary’s first book, “Henry Huggins,” was published more than 70 years ago, way back in 1950.

Cleary died Thursday in Carmel, California, where she’d lived since the 1960s, according to her publisher HarperCollins. Cleary was born Beverly Bunn on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon.

Cleary spent her early years on the family farm in Yamhill, Oregon. There, her mom set up a library for the town. Young Beverly’s love of books was born in that lodge room above a bank. That didn’t mean she was instantly a great writer. Cleary wasn’t even a good reader.

When her family moved to Portland, Cleary was placed in the local grammar school’s circle for struggling readers. That experience informed her future writing.

Cleary would go on to publish more than 40 books, selling more than 85 million copies. She’s won what feels like as many awards.

Cleary won a Newbery Honor in 1978 for “Ramona and Her Father” and another in 1982 for “Ramona Quimby, Age 8.” In 1984, she received the John Newbery Medal for “Dear Mr. Henshaw.”

She has also been honored with the American Library Association’s 1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the Catholic Library Association’s 1980 Regina Medal, and the University of Southern Mississippi’s 1982 Silver Medallion. In 1984, Cleary was the United States author nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award. In 2000, to honor her contributions to children’s literature, Beverly Cleary was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.

We could go on, but even the internet only has so much room.

Cleary’s “Ramona” novels were adapted into the 2010 live-action children’s movie “Ramona and Beezus,” which starred Joey King and Selena Gomez in the title roles. While the title comes from Cleary’s first book in the series, “Beezus and Ramona,” it follows the story told in the sequels, “Ramona Forever” and “Ramona’s World.”

The Fox 2000 Pictures-produced movie grossed $27 million.

“We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time. Looking back, she’d often say, ‘I’ve had a lucky life,’ and generations of children count themselves lucky too–lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years,” Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, said in a statement. “We at HarperCollins also feel extremely lucky to have worked with Beverly Cleary and to have enjoyed her sparkling wit.  Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood.”