FOUND: BEVERLY CLEARY’S SECRET TO MAKING TIMELESS ART
Many people will use today, Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday, as a time to look back on her impressive volume of work. And why not? Ramona Quimby, Age 8; Beezus and Ramona; Henry Huggins; Runaway Ralph. Just about every single American kid has read a Beverly Cleary book.
But here’s what we’re stoked on: even though Beverly Cleary dreamed up these characters decades ago, generations of fans still devour her books like crazy. Which is pretty incredible, considering how much the world has changed since these stories were written. There were no Instagram feeds or trap music at the time when Cleary penned these stories, but the writing still feels fresh.
How did she tap into such timeless themes? By tuning into the human condition instead of doing what most adults do–pandering to what we think kids might be into (cool-at-the-time slang, for instance). Five years ago, she told The Atlantic:
“I have stayed true to my own memories of childhood, which are not different in many ways from those of children today. Although their circumstances have changed, I don’t think children’s inner feelings have changed.”
In such a tech and trend-driven society, it’s a good lesson to remember: Authenticity never goes out of style.
Also awesome: Cleary wasn’t trying to make Ramona a good girl–which is exactly what we love about the character. Ramona is #perfectlyimperfect and a more lovable and interesting girl because of it–a great reminder for those of us who get a little OCD on the perfection tip in real life. Below, Cleary shares why she chose not to paint Ramona as goody two-shoes perfect (skip to the 4:39 mark):
Thanks for the reminders, Ms. Cleary, and Happy Birthday to you!