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A Girl from Yamhill

A Girl from Yamhill

4.3 19
by Beverly Cleary

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Told in her own words, A Girl from Yamhill is Newbery Medal–winning author Beverly Cleary’s heartfelt and relatable memoir—now with a beautifully redesigned cover!

Generations of children have read Beverly Cleary’s books. From Ramona Quimby to Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse to Ellen Tebbits, she has created an evergreen body of work


Told in her own words, A Girl from Yamhill is Newbery Medal–winning author Beverly Cleary’s heartfelt and relatable memoir—now with a beautifully redesigned cover!

Generations of children have read Beverly Cleary’s books. From Ramona Quimby to Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse to Ellen Tebbits, she has created an evergreen body of work based on the humorous tales and heartfelt anxieties of middle graders. But in A Girl from Yamhill, Beverly Cleary tells a more personal story—her story—of what adolescence was like. In warm but honest detail, Beverly describes life in Oregon during the Great Depression, including her difficulties in learning to read, and offers a slew of anecdotes that were, perhaps, the inspiration for some of her beloved stories.

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’s books, here is the fascinating true story of the remarkable woman who created them.

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''

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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.

Meet the Author

Beverly Cleary is one of America's most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, Oregon, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children's books when she grew up.

Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, "Where are the books about kids like us?" she remembered her teacher's encouragement and was inspired to write the books she'd longed to read but couldn't find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born!

Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. Dear Mr. Henshaw won the Newbery Medal, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.

Brief Biography

Carmel, California
Date of Birth:
April 12, 1916
Place of Birth:
McMinnville, Oregon
B.A., University of California-Berkeley, 1938; B.A. in librarianship, University of Washington (Seattle), 1939

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Girl from Yamhill 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutly touching! I definitly reccomend it to anyone who enjoys longer memiors or autobiographys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gr8 book for all age
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Kingi Finlayson More than 1 year ago
I read and wrote this for a book report in about a week! So attention grabbing. I love this book :)
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compster1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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. :)