April 12 is Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday. The unforgettable author of more than 40 different highly-acclaimed children’s books Cleary is the force behind all things Ramona and Beezus, Henry Huggins and Ribsy, Ellen Tebbits and many other unforgettable characters.
Still alive on this earth (these days in Carmel, California) she has created a world similar to our own. As a matter of fact, the locale of many of her books is here in Portland.
One of the most successful authors of children’s books, Cleary was born in McMinnville. Her family moved to Portland when she was all of six years old. They lived a few blocks from the street she would immortalize forever, Klickitat Street in NE Portland.
Now there’s a new book coming with a special slant for Ramona fans who live and visit here, Walking with Ramona will be on the shelves this October in time to celebrate Cleary’s centennial. Written by Laura O Foster (author of four Portland walking books) and published by Microcosm Publishing, it explores the streets, schools and characters of Cleary’s Portland around the neighborhoods she grew up in.
This most unusual Portland guidebook takes readers on an approximately three mile walk (or bike ride) using the sidewalks Cleary walked. See the grocery parking lot where Ramona got stuck in the mud, the park lawn where Henry Huggins hunted nightcrawlers, and the real Portland street that became Klickitat Street, their fictional home.
Foster’s book brings to life what 1920s and 1930s Portland was like for The Girl from Yamhill (the title of Cleary’s autobiography) who became an internationally beloved author.
Statues of her Henry, Ribsy and Ramona can be found in Portland’s Grant Park in the Hollyrood-Fernwood neighborhood and in June 2008, the neighborhood’s K-8 school (formerly known as Fernwood Grammar School and attended by Cleary), was officially renamed Beverly Cleary School.
Walking With Ramona will be released in October of this year. Preorder copies now at tinyurl.com/glpxdt5. See microcosmpublishing.com for more information.