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Celebrated children’s author Beverly Cleary has died at age 104.
HarperCollins Publishers announced the sad news Friday afternoon, confirming Clearly had passed away Thursday in Carmel, California, where she had lived since the 1960s.
“We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time,” said Suzanne Murphy, the president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. “Looking back, she’d often say, ‘I’ve had a lucky life,’ and generations of children count themselves lucky too—lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created … as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years … Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood.”
After earning her master’s at the University of Washington, Cleary began working as a children’s librarian. At that time, the Oregon native realized that many kids “had trouble finding books that captured their imaginations.” About 11 years after graduating, Cleary published her first book Henry Huggins. The book spawned what would become a wildly popular series that included beloved characters like Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Ralph S. Mouse.
“I think children want to read about normal, everyday kids. That’s what I wanted to read about when I was growing up,” Cleary told NPR in 1999. “I wanted to read about the sort of boys and girls that I knew in my neighborhood and in my school. And in my childhood, many years ago, children’s books seemed to be about English children, or pioneer children. And that wasn’t what I wanted to read. And I think children like to find themselves in books.”
Clearly is survived by her children, Malcolm and Marianne, and three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her husband, Clarence Cleary, died in 2004.