“Henry Huggins was in the third grade. His hair looked like a scrubbing brush and most of his grown-up front teeth were in. He lived with his mother and father in a square white house on Klickitat Street. Except for having his tonsils out when he was six and breaking his arm falling out of a cherry tree when he was seven, nothing much happened to Henry.”
On January 2, 1949, Beverly Cleary wrote these memorable words—the first paragraph of her first book Henry Huggins—at the old kitchen table stored in the back bedroom in her home in Berkeley, and the rest is history. Her peerless ability to write authentically from the perspective of children, encapsulating all of their momentous joys, fears and foibles in print, is why her books have resonated so profoundly with children, and have launched many an avid reader.
Happy 100th birthday to Beverly Cleary, and a million thank-yous would never be enough for what you’ve done for children’s literature, and more importantly, children’s lives around the world.