Join the Hollywood Library for guided walking tours and a world-premier interview with the beloved author
By Natasha Forrester Campbell
Youth Librarian, Hollywood Library
At Hollywood Library, we love good books, good authors and good parties, so we jump at the chance to combine all those things together. This April marks the 100th birthday of beloved author (and former Hollywood neighbor) Beverly Cleary, and we’re excited about celebrating.
Although these days Cleary lives in Carmel, California, her stories of the kids, families and pets populating Klickitat Street live on in the imagination of readers everywhere. So in honor of her momentous birthday and her impact on children’s literature and generations of readers and authors, Multnomah County Library is throwing her a party – several, in fact.
On Saturday, April 2, we’re celebrating at Hollywood Library. The fun includes staff- and volunteer-guided walking tours of neighborhood places featured in the Ramona and Henry books, with activities inspired by events in the books taking place at stops along the way. Also in the neighborhood that day, the Hollywood Theatre will host the world premiere of OPB’s Oregon Art Beat episode, featuring a brand-new interview with Cleary. Get details about all the “Celebrate 100 Years of Beverly Cleary” events and register for one of the walking tours on the library’s website, or stop by in person to pick up an events flyer and chat with staff about all the exciting things happening at your library.
To tide you over ‘til April, here are some fun Beverly Cleary facts that might come in handy at a pub quiz or for some fun, family dinner conversation starters:
• Beverly Cleary’s first book was published in 1950 and the last in 1999, so she was writing books for over 49 years.
• She was a “reluctant reader” as a child until the wonderful combination of a great teacher and a great librarian turned her onto the joy of reading.
• Several of her books received the American Library Association’s annual award for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children,” winning the Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw in 1984, as well as Newbery Honors for Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982.
• She wrote teen romances (Fifteen, The Luckiest Girl, Jean and Johnny) as well as fiction novels, picture books and autobiographies.
• Her birthday is a holiday recognized in many schools around the United States, including her namesake school here in Portland – D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) Day.
• She was a librarian as well as an author.
Walking with Ramona tour/book
A few years ago, local guidebook writer Laura Foster was asked by the Hollywood Library to write up and lead an interpretive walking tour of author Beverly Cleary’s Portland neighborhood. The events were a hit—sometimes 200 people showed up for the tours.
To coincide with the celebration of Cleary’s 100th birthday, Foster’s new book, published by Portland’s Microcosm Publishing, is coming out. Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary’s Portland includes an expanded version of the library walking tour in it, and more, including a look at Portland of the 1920s and 1930s. The book’s publication date is in the fall 2016 but an early birthday edition will be available in April.
Foster is working with the Hollywood library, which is celebrating Cleary’s birthday, with a series of events. Foster will lead at least one of the tours the library is offering.
Walking with Ramona explores the streets, schools, characters and neighborhoods of author Beverly Cleary’s Portland. With this unusual Portland guidebook, readers can walk the very sidewalks Cleary walked and climb the very school steps that she climbed. You’ll see the grocery parking lot where Cleary’s character Ramona got stuck in the mud, the park lawn where another book character, Henry Huggins, hunted night crawlers, and the real Portland street that became Klickitat Street, their fictional home. Walking with Ramona brings to life what 1920s and 1930s Portland was like for Cleary, the “girl from Yamhill” who went on to become an internationally beloved author. Characters Ramona and Beezus, Henry and Ribsy, Ellen and Austine come to life on the book’s hour-long walking route through the Northeast Portland neighborhood where Cleary grew up.
The book features an almost-three-mile walk (or bike ride) around Northeast Portland, plus other Oregon destinations. Foster’s other Portland books include Walk There!, Portland Hill Walks, the Portland Stairs Book and Portland City Walks.