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Beverly Cleary, Getting the Best Out of Her 'Pest'

Author Beverly Cleary introduced children to her first character, Henry Huggins, in 1950.
Author Beverly Cleary introduced children to her first character, Henry Huggins, in 1950.

If you were a child in America anytime between the 1950s and now -- especially if you were a little girl -- you probably know Ramona Quimby. She's author Beverly Cleary's most famous creation. You know: Ramona the Pest.

Beverly Cleary turns 90 this week. For decades she wrote about the kinds of kids she knew as a child in Oregon -- Henry Huggins, Ramona's big sister Beezus, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, and so on. She also gave the world the endearing Ralph S. Mouse, and Socks the cat.

Her characters have remained consistently popular through changing times. And unlike so many other staples of children's entertainment, they've done it with precious little side merchandising. The books have made their own way, selling millions of copies without an assist from TV, movies or video games. At least not yet.

Beverly Clearly, who now lives in Carmel Valley, Calif., talks with Debbie Elliott about her timeless characters and the enduring appeal of Klickitat Street.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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