A few words with Beverly Cleary on her 95th birthday

BeverlyclearyBeverly Cleary, author of the Beezus, Ramona and Henry Huggins books -- in all, more than 30 books for young adults and children -- celebrates her 95th birthday today. Happy birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Cleary will receive the Robert Kirsch Award at the L.A. Times book prizes on April 29. It's the first time the honor has gone to an author of books for children.

L.A. Times book critic David L. Ulin visited Cleary at her home near Carmel and interviewed her for a feature that will appear in Sunday's Calendar section. These outtakes from her conversation include stories about her inspiration, Los Angeles in the 1930s and her experiences with the iconic television show "Leave It to Beaver."

Jacket Copy: What were some of the early books that inspired you?

Beverly Cleary: I had a bad time in school in the first grade. Because I had been a rather lonely child on a farm, but I was free and wild and to be shut up in a classroom -- there were 40 children on those days in the classroom, and it was quite a shock. The reader was incredibly stupid -- about Ruth and John and Rover. But my mother always kept library books in the house, and one rainy Sunday afternoon -- this was before television, and we didn’t even have a radio -- I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered I was reading and enjoying what I read. It was "The Dutch Twins" by Lucy Fitch Perkins, who did a series of books about twins in different countries. Maybe that’s why I had twins. (laughs) Something happened

authors books children's literature David Ulin Interview LA Times Book Prize
04/12/2011 12:59

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