Beverly Cleary, who contemporized children’s literature with books like “Ramona the Pest” and “Henry and Beezus” and become one of the best-selling children’s authors of all time, died Thursday. She was 104.
Her publisher HarperCollins tweeted that she died on Thursday.
— HarperCollins (@HarperCollins) March 26, 2021
A 10-part TV series, “Ramona,” based on her most enduring character, the rambunctious Ramona Quimby, starred Sarah Polley in 1988, while “Ramona and Beezus” was made into a 2010 movie starring Joey King and Selena Gomez.
Cleary sold more than 90 million books, putting her in the wildly popular ranks of authors like J.K. Rowling. Her more than 40 books included “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” “Ralph S. Mouse” and “Henry and Ribsy,” which was among the many she wrote based on the children she knew growing up in her Portland, Ore. neighborhood.
“The Mouse and the Motorcyle,” about a mouse who can speak to children and lives in a rundown hotel, was made into a 1986 movie with Mimi Kennedy and Ray Walston. The massive bestseller was part of a trilogy of three Mouse books.
Her Young Love books for teenage girls, including “Fifteen,” “Sister of the Bride” and “The Luckiest Girl” were more more firmly rooted in the mid-century world of prom queens and sock hops, but were equally popular among the generation growing up in the 1950s and ’60s.
Though most of her characters were her own creation, Cleary also signed on for a series of adaptations of popular 1960s TV show “Leave It to Beaver.”
Born Beverly Bunn, she graduated the University of California at Berkeley with a master’s in library science and worked as a children’s librarian before leaving to write full-time. She wanted young people to find books with characters they could relate to, which were rare at the time. She published “Henry Huggins” in 1950 and went on to win a Newbury medal, the National Book Award, the National Medal of Arts and the Library of Congress Living Legend award.