Beloved Children’s Book Author Beverly Cleary Dead at 104

Beverly Cleary, author of the Ramona and Henry Huggins book series, has died at 104.

By Kaitlin Reilly Mar 26, 2021 11:34 PMTags
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On Thursday, March 25, author Beverly Cleary died in her home in Carmel Valley, Calif., her publisher HarpersCollins said in a statement. She was 104. 

"We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children's authors of all time. Looking back, she'd often say, ‘I've had a lucky life,' and generations of children count themselves lucky too," said Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, in a press release. "Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood."

Cleary, who won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association for "substantial and lasting contributions to children's literature" in 1975, was the author of the Henry Higgins series, about a young boy growing up in Portland, Oregon. Between 1950 and 1964, Cleary published six books in the series, with the final novel, Ribsy, taking place from the perspective of Henry's family dog.

However, it was the Henry Higgins' spin-off series, the Ramona novels, for which Clearly would become best known. In the series, Cleary chronicled the life of Ramona Quimby, a middle class girl and Henry's neighbor who experienced a wide range of growing pains between pre-school and kindergarten. The series, which has eight books total, began in 1955 with Beezus and Ramona and ran through 1999 with Ramona's World.

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In 2010 the film Ramona and Beezus, which is based on the book series, starred Selena Gomez as Ramona's older sister and Joey King as Ramona.

Vern Fisher/Monterey Herald via AP

In addition to her book series, Cleary wrote over 30 books, including StriderThe Mouse and the MotorcycleMuggie Maggie and Dr. Mr. Henshaw. In 2000, she was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress. 

"Reading made a great difference in the quality of my childhood," Cleary told People in a 1988 interview. "I'm happy to learn that my books do the same for children today."