The author of the Ramona and Mouse and the Motorcycle books turned 100 Sunday but does’t want to make a big deal out of it. She planned to celebrate with a slice of carrot cake.

Cleary is as feisty and direct as her famously spirited character Ramona Quimby — an observation that she hears often and doesn’t care for. “I thought like Ramona,” she says in a phone interview, “but I was a very well-
behaved little girl.”

Today, Cleary lives a quiet, well-behaved life in a retirement home in Northern California. She gets up at 7:30 a.m. and spends the day reading the newspaper and books (on her night stand when we talked in mid-March: Alexandra Fuller’s “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight”) and doing crossword puzzles. She watches “Doc Martin” and CNN and enjoys visits with her family. She doesn’t have a computer, and though she enjoys writing letters, she notes dryly that “when you get to be 99, there aren’t many people to write letters to.”

In her youth, she points out, “mothers did not work outside the home; they worked on the inside. And because all the mothers were home — 99 percent of them, anyway — all mothers kept their eyes on all the children.” This is part of the reason, she says, that the children in her books were so often out tromping through the neighborhood without adult chaperones.

Feisty Ramona is her favorite character, and well-behaved Ellen Tebbits is a close second. Cleary says she’d have both girls over for dinner, “but not at the same time.”

Beverly Cleary on turning 100: Kids today ‘don’t have the freedom’ I had [Nora Krug – The Washington Post]

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