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Things We Saw Today: Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Young Beverly Cleary with her cat in black and white.

Beverly Cleary, whose characters have made an indelible impression on millions of children, is 103 years old today. She’s written dozens of books over the decades (selling 91 million copies), but the most famous of her characters and the one who has impacted the lives of so many young girls is, no doubt, Ramona Quimby.

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Ramona was created as a minor character in Cleary’s first novel, Henry Huggins, in 1950. But she soon became the center of her own story (Beezus and Ramona) and series of stories. A profile on Vox states that “Henry Huggins and the many books that followed were meant to be an antidote to the sugary, sentimental children’s stories that were fashionable in the 1950s; Cleary was writing about real children.”

Her stories were not typical stories of the time and Ramona Quimby was not their typical girl. She was feisty, disruptive, and tomboyish at a time when that was anything but trendy or even very acceptable. She was in good company with, as Vox’s Constance Grady writes, “other untidy girls who function as walking wrecking balls to the status quo”–Jo March, Laura Ingalls, Pippi Longstocking, and the like. For generations of girls who sometimes felt out of place but refused to compromise who they were, who were forging their own paths through life, who really were Merry Sunshines, no matter what anyone said–Beverly Cleary gave us a hero and a friend.

Let’s see, I’m sure there were some other things that happened today that weren’t Disney-related …

  • I am very into these queer AF first-look pictures of the new Charlie’s Angels. (via EW)
  • The first episode of this What If? animated series will imagine a world in which Peggy Carter became Captain America. (via Comic Book Movie)
  • The new Veronica Mars revival has a teaser trailer! (via Twitter)
  • This is the funniest thing on the entirety of the internet.

  • Important history: 100 years ago, hundreds of unarmed, peaceful civilians in Punjab were shot by British soldiers under the command of the now infamous “Butcher of Amritsar.” (via Origins)
  • We talked earlier this week about Kirsten Gillibrand’s ability to learn and grow from her past mistakes but Elizabeth Warren was a full-on Republican for much of her adult life. (via The Slot)
  • And then there was that time Mackenzie Davis and Antoni from Queer Eye were in a low-budget production of Legally Blonde the musical.

Well, that’s about all the Friday I can take. Happy weekend, everybody!

(image: By Unknown – Cleary Family archive/OPB, Public Domain)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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