A Girl from Yamhill

A Girl from Yamhill

4.3 19
by Beverly Cleary

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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

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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.

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

HarperCollins Publishers
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File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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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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