Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Beverly Cleary Author Study: Muggie Maggie

Illustrations by Kay Life, though the
cover artist is the "Rubes" signature again.

I say this about every other Cleary book, but I remember this so vividly from my own childhood. I think my mom bought it for me when I was struggling with my own handwriting. This book was written in response to a third-grader who wanted a book about cursive writing. It's a quick read but I do think it's a necessary subject. Cleary addresses it with her signature natural and fun style. Maggie is only a character for this one short book, but she feels as real and well-developed as the kids from Klickitat Street.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Beverly Cleary Author Study: A Girl From Yamhill


Beverly Cleary shares her childhood up through high school graduation in the first installment of her autobiography. She includes a lot of historical information about her pioneer ancestors. When she wrote about her early childhood on the farm, I could see where a lot of Emily's Runaway Imagination came from. 

These memories reminded me a lot of my maternal grandmother, too. She grew up on a farm and was close to the same age as Cleary. We had read some Cleary books together, including Emily's Runaway Imagination, so I had my grandmother's memories going through my head as I read this book. It made for a very cozy experience.

Cleary's story is touching and real and interesting. She is very honest about her childhood and her relationship with her mother. As she grew into a teenager, I could see where some of the subject matter for her YA books came from as well. Her writing style in this book is just as natural as it is in her fiction books. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Beverly Cleary Author Study: Janet's Thingamajigs

Original illustrations by DyAnne DiSalvo, though my copy
is a re-release with illustrations redone by Carol Thompson.

Janet loves how her mother calls stuff "thingamajigs" when she can't remember the word for them. Janet wants thingamajigs of her own, so she starts collecting small items she sees every day. 

Jimmy wants to play with Janet's thingamajigs, so Janet wraps them up in brown paper bags and keeps them on her bed to prevent him from messing with them. The bags rustle every time Janet moves on her bed, and her mother says she sounds like a mouse in a wastepaper basket.

This short story was funny to me because my kid also likes to collect anything and everything. I think it's a perfect example of how kids like what they like, and if you give them the space to get it out of their system, they'll come through it on their own and save a lot of disagreements!