"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Report: A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary

I'm most of the way done with Beverly Cleary's autobiography and have found it really enjoyable. And again, I'm amazed at the ability of someone to remember their childhood so vividly. I like how she organizes her memories. Here are some of the parts I enjoyed most:

"She taught us how to use the library and once made us line up alphabetically by our last names, as if we were books on shelves. After that, I found a place on the shelf where my book would be if I ever wrote a book, which I doubted" (143).
Ha ha. She went on to write 42 books, including two autobiographies (if Wikipedia has it right).
"As much as I enjoyed writing it, I thought "Journey Through Bookland" was a poor story because the girl's journey turned out to be a dream; and if there was anything I disliked, it was a good story that ended up as a dream. Authors of such stories, including Lewis Carroll, were cheating, I felt, because they could not think of any other conclusion" (146).

I'm not sure which of my own teachers growing up told me this, but I distinctly remember being taught that when writing stories, they should never end with "... and then he/she woke up from a dream."

During her sophomore year in high school, Cleary chose typing as an elective, "which Mother did not consider frivolous because I was going to be a writer" (212). She managed a G for Good in the class and opted not to take the second semester.
"Today, when I am asked the most difficult part of writing, I answer "typing," which is taken as a joke. It is not. There is nothing funny about typewriting"(212).

I think I get Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume confused. And in my home, Judy Blume was an author to be selective about. I can remember not being allowed to read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret? But then having it assigned as a book to read for a Adolescent Lit. class at BYU. It was probably her book, Forever, that I was to avoid (and have thus far).

Now that I've read more about Beverly Cleary, I have a much clearer picture of who she is and which books she wrote. I didn't remember until I saw all of her books listed on her website and her Wikipedia page how many of her books were my favorites growing up, and are now my kids' favorites. I loved the Ramona books. I loved Dear Mr. Henshaw. I loved Ralph S. Mouse and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I don't remember reading her Henry Higgins books as a kid, but my kids have listened to them on cd and Jed has read them aloud to the kids and they've loved them.


Cristin said...

I also loved Beverly Cleary books growing up. Although, I could never understand why "Dear Mr. Henshaw" received so much acclaim. I thought that one was boring. I just heard they are making "Ramona and Beezus" into a movie.

wendys said...

I loved Beverly Cleary books as a kid and even read A Girl from Yamhill in middle school. My son loves the mouse and the motorcycle.

Heather Justesen said...

I grew up loving Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume--though Judy's more mature books certainly are avoided in my house! Isn't it amazing how big of an impact books can make?

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