There is, inherently, a timelessness to great writing. Beverly Cleary was a great writer:
"Don't pester, Ramona," said Mrs. Quimby. "I'll get you there in plenty of time."
"I'm not pestering," protested Ramona, who never meant to pester. She was not a slowpoke grown-up. She was a girl who could not wait.
Cleary, who died last month at 104, set out to write books about normal kids living normal lives, using her childhood in Portland as a template. There were no wizards or crime-solving or magical nannies; there were children who play with dogs and ride bikes and have parents who occasionally quarrel.
That formula sparked enough imaginations for Cleary to sell an estimated 90 million books and help generations of youngsters learn to read.
As columnist David Von Drehle wrote in the Washington Post: "Cleary accomplished something that few writers have even attempted. She wrote brilliantly about childhood as it really is … ."
The benefits are extraordinary. As the American Academy of Pediatrics has noted, reading with children from an early age provides lifelong benefits. Studies have shown that avid readers have more empathy and a broader understanding of the world.
Childhood has changed since the era depicted in Cleary's books, and she told the Washington Post in 2016: "I think children today have a tough time, because they don't have the freedom to run around as I did — and they have so many scheduled activities."
Yet the adventures she penned still resonate. Cleary created characters that children can relate to, imbuing them with impishness and meddlesomeness.
That remains part of the charm. As website Literary Hub wrote on Twitter: "RIP to the great Beverly Cleary, who taught girls to embrace their 'too muchness.' "
In that, Cleary's books and her writing remain timeless.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE (VANCOUVER, WASH.) COLUMBIAN