A Girl from Yamhill

( 19 )

Overview

Generations of children have grown up with Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and all of their friends, families, and assorted pets. For everyone who has enjoyed the pranks and schemes, embarrassing moments, and all of the other poignant and colorful images of childhood brought to life in Beverly Cleary books, here is the fascinating true story of the remarkable woman who created them.

Follows the popular children's author from her childhood years in Oregon through high ...

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A Girl from Yamhill

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Overview

Generations of children have grown up with Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and all of their friends, families, and assorted pets. For everyone who has enjoyed the pranks and schemes, embarrassing moments, and all of the other poignant and colorful images of childhood brought to life in Beverly Cleary books, here is the fascinating true story of the remarkable woman who created them.

Follows the popular children's author from her childhood years in Oregon through high school and into young adulthood, highlighting her family life and her growing interest in writing.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The author sees her child self with the same clarity and objectivity as she has seen her fictional characters.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's surprising to learn in this intimate book that Cleary, creator of Henry Huggins, Ramona and other irrepressible characters, was an unhappy child, always longing for affection and approval from her mother. Born in 1916 on an Oregon farm, she spent most of her youth in Portland, which she remembers in astonishing detail. She struggled with reading, rules for good behavior and many kinds of disillusionment. Cleary's humor is dry and effective, but underneath, the sadness persists. She often worried about her parents, whose prospects were tragically undermined by the Depression. But such longings and worries weren't discussed in those days. Partly to escape, she took pleasure in rebelsher classmate Ralph, who ``modeled his gum into a small rhinoceros horn,'' and her Camp Fire Girls leader, Mrs. Growe, ``a woman of courage who did not fuss about details.'' This is a slow, sometimes oblique story at the outset, but deeply moving by the end. A real gift to Cleary's many fans, young and old. Ages 12-up. (April)
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up The author's name rather than the title of her partial autobiography will catch the eyes of her army of loyal readers who grew up with Cleary's great books for children. Then, there are always those special few readers who dream of becoming writers themselves, and Cleary has some information on how this was for her and more about the hunger for reading that often starts writers on their way. It's bootless to compare and contrast autobiographical books, since each memorists' experiences and those they select to share are unique. Cleary's selection is acute, especially for some growing up pains and problems often scanted in books intended for younger readers, i.e., an uncle who was a potential danger to young girls and the fear and confusion his attentions caused; the possessive, devoted mother whose fierce love was never affectionate; the first, nearly unshakable boyfriend; and much more about each stage of growing up as an only child in Portland, Oregon, when the Great Depression moved in as the unseen, all-powerful villain in every working-class household. It ends with Cleary off to college in California without anything but determination and the ability to work hard and find her own way. As with her fiction, readers are likely to want her memoir to go on when they read her last page. Lillian N. Gerhardt , ``School Library Journal''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380727407
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 349,195
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary is one of America's most popular authors. Born in McMinnville, Oregon, she lived on a farm in Yamhill until she was six and then moved to Portland. After college, as the children's librarian in Yakima, Washington, she was challenged to find stories for non-readers. She wrote her first book, Henry Huggins, inresponse to a boy's question, "Where are the books about kids like us?"

Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the Amercan Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature.

Her Dear Mr. Henshaw was awarded the 1984 John Newbery Medal, and both Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books. In addition, her books have won more than thirty-five statewide awards based on the votes of her young readers. Her characters, including Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, and Beezus and Ramona Quimby, as well as Ribsy, Socks, and Ralph S. Mouse, have delighted children for generations. Mrs. Cleary lives in coastal California.

Biography

Beverly Cleary was inadvertently doing market research for her books before she wrote them, as a young children’s librarian in Yakima, Washington. Cleary heard a lot about what kids were and weren’t responding to in literature, and she thought of her library patrons when she later sat down to write her first book.

Henry Huggins, published in 1950, was an effort to represent kids like the ones in Yakima and like the ones in her childhood neighborhood in Oregon. The bunch from Klickitat Street live in modest houses in a quiet neighborhood, but they’re busy: busy with rambunctious dogs (one Ribsy, to be precise), paper routes, robot building, school, bicycle acquisitions, and other projects. Cleary was particularly sensitive to the boys from her library days who complained that they could find nothing of interest to read – and Ralph and the Motorcycle was inspired by her son, who in fourth grade said he wanted to read about motorcycles. Fifteen years after her Henry books, Cleary would concoct the delightful story of a boy who teaches Ralph to ride his red toy motorcycle.

Cleary’s best known character, however, is a girl: Ramona Quimby, the sometimes difficult but always entertaining little sister whom Cleary follows from kindergarten to fourth grade in a series of books. Ramona is a Henry Huggins neighbor who, with her sister, got her first proper introduction in Beezus and Ramona, adding a dimension of sibling dynamics to the adventures on Klickitat Street. Cleary’s stories, so simple and so true, deftly portrayed the exasperation and exuberance of being a kid. Finally, an author seemed to understand perfectly about bossy/pesty siblings, unfair teachers, playmate politics, the joys of clubhouses and the perils of sub-mattress monsters.

Cleary is one of the rare children’s authors who has been able to engage both boys and girls on their own terms, mostly through either Henry Huggins or Ramona and Beezus. She has not limited herself to those characters, though. In 1983, she won the Newbery Medal with Dear Mr. Henshaw, the story of a boy coping with his parents’ divorce, as told through his journal entries and correspondence with his favorite author. She has also written a few books for older girls (Fifteen, The Luckiest Girl, Sister of the Bride, and Jean and Johnny) mostly focusing on first love and family relationships. A set of books for beginning readers stars four-year-old twins Jimmy and Janet.

Some of Cleary’s books – particularly her titles for young adults – may seem somewhat alien to kids whose daily lives don’t feature soda fountains, bottles of ink, or even learning cursive. Still, the author’s stories and characters stand the test of time; and she nails the basic concerns of childhood and adolescence. Her books (particularly the more modern Ramona series, which touches on the repercussions of a father’s job loss and a mother’s return to work) remain relevant classics.

Cleary has said in an essay that she wrote her two autobiographical books, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet, "because I wanted to tell young readers what life was like in safer, simpler, less-prosperous times, so different from today." She has conveyed that safer, simpler era -- still fraught with its own timeless concerns -- to children in her fiction as well, more than half a century after her first books were released.

Good To Know

Word processing is not Cleary's style. She writes, "I write in longhand on yellow legal pads. Some pages turn out right the first time (hooray!), some pages I revise once or twice and some I revise half-a-dozen times. I then attack my enemy the typewriter and produce a badly typed manuscript which I take to a typist whose fingers somehow hit the right keys. No, I do not use a computer. Everybody asks."

Cleary usually starts her books on January 2.

Up until she was six, Cleary lived in Yamhill, Oregon -- a town so small it had no library. Cleary's mother took up the job of librarian, asking for books to be sent from the state branch and lending them out from a lodge room over a bank. It was, Clearly remembers, "a dingy room filled with shabby leather-covered chairs and smelling of stale cigar smoke. The books were shelved in a donated china cabinet. It was there I made the most magical discovery: There were books written especially for children!"

Cleary authored a series of tie-in books in the early 1960s for classic TV show Leave It to Beaver.

Cleary's books appear in over 20 countries in 14 languages.

Cleary's book The Luckiest Girl is based in part on her own young adulthood, when a cousin of her mother's offered to take Beverly for the summer and have her attend Chaffey Junior College in Ontario, California. Cleary went from there to the University of California at Berkeley.

The actress Sarah Polley got her start playing Ramona in the late ‘80s TV series. Says Cleary in a Q & A on her web site: “I won’t let go of the rights for television productions unless I have script approval. There have been companies that have wanted the movie rights to Ramona, but they won’t let me have script approval, and so I say no. I did have script approval for the television productions of the Ramona series…. I thought Sarah Polley was a good little actress, a real little professional.”

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    1. Also Known As:
      Beverly Atlee Bunn (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Carmel, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 12, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      McMinnville, Oregon
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of California-Berkeley, 1938; B.A. in librarianship, University of Washington (Seattle), 1939

Read an Excerpt

Girl from Yamhill, A MSR
Chapter OneEarly Memories

Mother and I stand on the weathered and warped back steps looking up at my father, who sits, tall and handsome in work clothes, astride a chestnut horse. To one side lie the orchard and a path leading under the horse chestnut tree, past a black walnut and a peach-plum tree, to the privy. On the other side are the woodshed, the icehouse, and the cornfield, and beyond, a field of wheat. The horse obstructs my vision of the path to the barnyard, the pump house with its creaking windmill, the chicken coop, smokehouse, machine shed, and the big red barn, but I know they are there.

Mother holds a tin box that once contained George Washington tobacco and now holds my father's lunch. She hands it to him, and as he leans down to take it, she says, "I'll be so glad when this war is over and we can have some decent bread again."

My father rides off in the sunshine to oversee the Old Place, land once owned by one of my great-grandfathers. I wave, sad to see my father leave, if only for a day.

The morning is chilly. Mother and I wear sweaters as I follow her around the big old house. Suddenly bells begin to ring, the bells of Yamhill's three churches and the fire bell. Mother seizes my hand and begins to run, out of the house, down the steps, across the muddy barnyard toward the barn where my father is working. My short legs cannot keep up. I trip, stumble, and fall, tearing holes in the knees of my long brown cotton stockings, skinning my knees.

"You must never, never forget this day as long as you live," Mother tells me as Father comes running out of the barn to meet us.

Years later, I asked Mother whatwas so important about that day when all the bells in Yamhill rang, the day I was never to forget. She looked at me in astonishment and said, "Why, that was the end of the First World War." I was two years old at the time.

Thanksgiving. Relatives are coming to dinner. The oak pedestal table is stretched to its limit and covered with a silence cloth and white damask. The sight of that smooth, faintly patterned cloth fills me with longing. I find a bottle of blue ink, pour it out at one end of the table, and dip my hands into it. Pat-a-pat, pat-a-pat, all around the table I go, inking handprints on that smooth white cloth. I do not recall what happened when aunts, uncles, and cousins arrived. All I recall is my satisfaction in marking with ink on that white surface.

Winter. Rain beats endlessly against the south window of the kitchen. I am dressing beside the wood stove, the warmest place in the house. Father is eating oatmeal; Mother is frying bacon. When I am dressed, Father sends me to the sitting room to fetch something. I run through the cold dining room to the sitting room. What I see excites me and makes me indignant. Proud to be the bearer of astonishing news, I run back. "Daddy! There's a tree in the sitting room!"

I expect my father to spring from his chair, alarmed, and rush to the sitting room. Instead, my parents laugh. They explain about Christmas trees and decorations.

Oh. Is that all? A Christmas tree is interesting, but I am disappointed. A tree slipping into the house at night had appealed to me. I want my father to charge into the sitting room to save us all from the intruder.

Memories of life in Yamhill, Oregon, were beginning to cling to my mind like burs to my long cotton stockings. The three of us, Lloyd, Mable, and Beverly Bunn, lived-or "rattled around," as Mother put it-in the two-story house with a green mansard roof set on eighty acres of rolling farmland in the Willamette Valley. To the west, beyond the barn, we could see forest and the Coast Range. To the east, at the other end of a boardwalk, lay the main street, Maple, of Yamhill.

The big old house, once the home of my grandfather, John Marion Bunn, was the first fine house in Yamhill, with the second bathtub in Yamhill County. Mother said the house had thirteen rooms. I count eleven, but Mother sometimes exaggerated. Or perhaps she counted the bathroom, which was precisely what the word indicates—a room off the kitchen for taking a bath. Possibly she counted the pantry or an odd little room under the cupola. Some of these rooms were empty, others sparsely furnished. The house also had three porches and two balconies, one for sleeping under the stars on summer nights until the sky clouded over and rain fell.

The roof was tin. Raindrops, at first sounding...

Girl from Yamhill, A MSR
. Copyright © by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2008

    Starting from a farm girl to becoming an inspired writer, Beverly Cleary made it.

    A Girl From Yamhill is an amazing story about Beverly Cleary, who is well known for her many stories for kids and young adults. A Girl From Yamhill is a story that tells you how a simple farm girl could become an awesome, amazing writer. This memoir was influence to me because it inspired me to follow my dreams. A Girl From Yamhill tells you that it doesn¿t matter where you come from, following your dreams and doing what you love to do matters matter¿s most. Beverly Cleary describes about how she always had a curious mind and how that is what helped her such a good writer. Ever since she was a little girl who spent time jumping into piles of hay, and chasing rainbows, and attempting going to the end of the world, she knew that she had a gift. She could make up funny stories that made her parents laugh and the towns people smile. She loved to listen to her mother¿s stories when they were stuck inside on a cold winter day. Her mother would tell her about how they would go sledding when she was little, in Michigan. Beverly Cleary would always wish she could go sledding but all they had on the ground was a thin coat of snow barely that covered the ground. This story is an incredible memoir to inspiring to young writers and readers everywhere. After you read this book, you will see that Beverly Cleary isn¿t just a funny writer she¿s a simple girl from Yamhill.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2012

    Touching memior

    This book is absolutly touching! I definitly reccomend it to anyone who enjoys longer memiors or autobiographys.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Wonderful

    Gr8 book for all age

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2011

    Loved it

    I read this book years and years ago as a teenager, after growing up loving the ramona books. A fabulous memoir, full of interesting insights into the author's life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2011

    Amazing

    I read and wrote this for a book report in about a week! So attention grabbing. I love this book :)

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  • Posted December 9, 2009

    Cleary, one for all ages

    If you have ever read any books by Beverly Cleary this is the book for you! Beverly takes you on an exciting journey through her troubles and excitements as a young girl growing up in the depression era. Thanks to her amazing descriptive writing you will feel as if you are growing up in her neighborhood. When I was younger I loved ready Beverly Cleary's books. It was interesting to me to be able to see where some of her inspirations for different stories came from. It was even more interesting that most of her stories came straight from her own life experiences. Young or old, this sweet and compelling story will keep you turning page after page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2006

    A GIRL FROM YAMHILL

    I liked it because Beverly Cleary describes each and every event in her childhood clearly and it fells like you are always right beside her when she encounters these events. It's not a pompous book in any way - it's honest, and any girl would love it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2005

    Another Great Cleary Book

    If you like other books by Cleary and you want to know what her life was like before she became a writer, then you should read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2005

    It's perfect!!!!!!!!!!

    In school I'm reading this book and It's very interesting. I really like the 1900's because alot of historical things happened at that time.That's why I this book four stores.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2002

    I thought mothers were to be Loving and Understanding

    At first i was board. But once they moved I got interested on what was going to happen to her dad. Then the mother with Gerhart I would have ran away. And then high school ended. I could kiss her father for saying yes to higher education.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2000

    This book is Awsome!!

    I'm a high school student and had to do a report on it. I thought it would be boring. I thought wrong. I read it and love it! I like how Beverly Cleary explains how they struggled during the Great Depression. ITs very easy to read. :)

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    Posted August 24, 2012

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