For the author's 100th birthday, we asked staffers to reminisce about their favorite childhood protagonist.
Beverly Cleary, the prolific children's author, turns 100 Tuesday, April 12, 2016—the perfect opportunity to take a trip down memory lane. Scan your bookshelves for your favorite Cleary novel, and chances are, you'll find at least one book starring the spunky, adventurous, and lovable Ramona Quimby. Whether you were the youngest in the family, or had a slightly annoying-but-wonderful younger sister, it was hard not to love Ramona. Readers grew with the imaginative character as she matured from a curious, trouble-maker of a toddler, to a mature, grown-up 10-year-old (double digits!). When we asked Real Simple staffers why they loved Ramona, they had a lot to say.
“I read these books as a kid and they were hysterical; giving a day-in-the-life perspective of a typical elementary school-aged girl, quirks about childhood, and sibling rivalry.” —Alexa Speyer, designer
“This past summer, as my son was approaching his 8th birthday, we started reading the series. He especially loved Ramona Quimby, Age 8. It's no surprise that Ramona is still so lovable even after all these years.” —Westry Green, research chief
“Ramona Quimby, Age 8 did much for me. She gave me company in being the second child; Number 2 to the always perfect Shannon, er, I mean Beezus!” —Casey Stenger, photo director
“I read all of the Ramona books, and they were all wonderful, and now I read them with my sons. Ramona and Beezus were so relatable for me when I was at that age and feeling simultaneously like I knew everything and that I would never really understand the world. Probably not much has changed in that regard!” —Naomi Lindberg, senior photo editor
“Ramona the Pest is my favorite as a younger sister (and pest) myself.” —Liz Steelman, RealSimple.com editorial assistant
“It’s kind of a chicken-egg conundrum: I’m not sure if Ramona the Brave was my favorite book because I had the same haircut as the illustration on the cover, or if I had the same haircut as the illustration because it was my favorite book.” —Rebecca Daly, senior fashion editor
Of course, Cleary wrote many other wonderful stories. Two staffers stood their favorites:
“My second grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, read The Mouse and the Motorcycle aloud to our class. I loved riding along for Ralph and Keith’s adventures. I still remember how it sparked my eight-year-old imagination—I so looked forward to the next installment each day and the way Mrs. Smith would make those motorcycle sounds (Pb-pb-b-b-b) come to life!” —Laura Schocker, RealSimple.com executive editor
“My favorite Beverly Cleary book is not one of her most famous: it's Fifteen. This novel so perfectly captures the hope and embarrassment of being a teenage girl (I'll never forget the scene where Jane, the protagonist, goes on a date and finds she has no place to wipe her hands—no napkin—and so she wipes her fingers on her slip). Fifteen, published in 1956, was Forever for the 50s, and just as memorable as Judy Blume's book, but with no sex!” Kristin van Ogtrop, Editor of Real Simple