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Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary, creator of Ralph S. Mouse & Ramona Quimby, dies at 104

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Mar 26, 2021, 7:50 PM EDT

Beverly Cleary, the author of the much-adored Ralph S. Mouse, Ramona Quimby, and Henry Huggins children’s books, passed away yesterday at age 104.

“We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time,” Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, shared in a statement. “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."

Beverly Bunn was born April 12, 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon. She spent her first years on her family’s farm in Yamhill and struggled as a young reader. By third grade, however, she had fallen in love with reading, and one of her teachers suggested she should write for children when she grew up. The idea stuck with her, though she started out her career as a librarian. A child asking her where were the books with characters like him, however, rekindled her desire to write.

Cleary published over 40 books during her career, according to HarperCollins, including three books that followed the adventures of the motorcycle-riding mouse, Ralph S. Mouse: The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse. She is also well known for her Ramona Quimby books, which followed the trials and triumphs of a young girl at home and at school. In 2009, the Ramona books were also made into a movie called Ramona and Beezus.

Cleary’s books have spoken to generations of children, and she has deservedly been celebrated for decades. In addition to several Newberry Awards, she was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress in 2000, and was awarded the National Medal of Art from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003.

"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,” Murphy concluded.

Beverly Cleary was predeceased by her husband, Clarence Cleary, and is survived by their two children, Malcolm and Marianne, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Donations may be made in Beverly Cleary’s name to the Library Foundation of Portland, Oregon, or the Information School at the University of Washington.