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My Own Two Feet: A Memoir


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About the Author

Beverly Cleary is one of America's most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, Oregon, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children's books when she grew up. Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, Where are the books about kids like us? she remembered her teacher's encouragement and was inspired to write the books she'd longed to read but couldn't find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born! Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. Dear Mr. Henshaw won the Newbery Medal, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.


This second installment of the Newbery Medalist's autobiography (after A Girl from Yamhill) begins during the '30s, with the young Cleary leaving her home state of Oregon to attend junior college in California. The volume ends in 1949, with Morrow's acceptance of Cleary's first novel, the now-classic Henry Huggins (initially written as a short story entitled ``Spareribs and Henry''). The author's unsentimental recollections of herself as a student in the Depression, a librarian and a newlywed are told humorously and candidly. Friends and adversaries-her ever-critical mother, formidable professors, congenial classmates, gentlemen acquaintances (including future husband Clarence)-are as colorfully sketched as the characters appearing in Cleary's beloved novels. Able to laugh at her own mistakes and to recognize universal truths in everyday life, Cleary will endear herself even more to her fans with this account of her struggle for independence. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Gr 7 Up‘This sequel to A Girl from Yamhill (Morrow, 1988) begins with Cleary starting college. The only child of Depression-era parents, she leaves her Oregon home to live with relatives and go to school tuition-free in California. Her vivid recollections of the various stops on the bus; her room in her aunt's home; and her many friends, including a few romances, are continued evidence of this author's ability to convince readers. It's all in the details. Cleary handles her own life well, giving it the shape that real life most often does not have, offering readers a sense of what it was like growing up in the 1930s, going to college when it was not common for women to do so, marrying and working during World War II. She also has those incidents that are common in coming-of-age books, fiction or otherwise: young love, wardrobes, defying parents, a first apartment, a first job (as a children's librarian). The book ends with her first book, inspired by her inner drive to write books for children who are not committed readers. So the book ends with a beginning. YAs who grew up on Cleary's books will find this one readable and inviting as they mature into young adulthood.‘Ruth K. MacDonald, Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA

"Beverly Cleary brings the same verve to her own story that has made her fiction classic for nearly 50 years."--"Kirkus Reviews"Cleary will endear herself even more to her fans with this account of her struggle for independence." --"Publishers Weekly"Cleary recalls the past with humor, affection, and insight. Those who have always admired her books will have an even greater admiration for the author."--"Horn Book

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