Arguably, one of the most potent authors of my youth was Beverly Cleary. All those great stories with Ramona and Beezus, the Quimby sisters; Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy; and a mouse that rode a tiny motorcycle. These were stories about kids just being kids. Lots of amazing stories that are still fun to read today.
Beverly Cleary recently passed away, at the grand old age of 104. A life well spent and a ton of fantastic literature that inspired generations.
And when I heard the news of her passing, there was one passage from a Beverly Cleary book that came rushing back to my memory.
Int he 1968 book Ramona the Pest, little 5-yea-rold Ramona Quimby attends kindergarten, and her teacher tries to get the classmates to sing the Star Spangled Banner. But Ramona mishears or misunderstands part of the anthem’s lyrics, and instead of hearing “Oh, say, can you see // by the dawn’s early light,” she receives the mondegreen of “Oh, say, can you see // by the dawnzer’s lee light.”
And for Ramona, she grasped that the dawnzer that gives out a lee light must be some sort of a table lamp. Which, in itself, puts a new spin on the Star Spangled Banner.
I would argue that Beverly Clearly, along with such authors as William Kennedy and William Faulkner and Harper Lee and William Goulding and Douglas Adams, have become major influences on my literature-driven mind. Think about it. Beverly Cleary created a literary universe that centered in the imagination of children. And that universe was one that you could enjoy even today.
Rest in peace, Beverly Cleary. And thank you for all the fantastic stories and memories and inspirations.
I’ll make sure my dawnzers give plenty of lee light. 😀