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It's always a shock to hear Beverly Cleary is in her nineties. The woman who created Henry Huggins, Ralph the mouse and of course Ramona Geraldine Quimby is in her nineties? How did that happen?

To me she never ages. I still see her on my library books with a no-nonsense haircut, her bio saying she lives in Carmel with her husband and twins. However she is timeless. She knows the challenges of children.

Long before District 12 or Hogwart's, there was Klickitat Street, a street in Portland where children rode their bikes, paperboys delivered newspapers in the evening, and Ramona Quimby could be seen on her skates, discovering the world. Before Bella and Katiness were thought of, Ramona was the one to tell young readers, "Hey! Growing up is hard, but I get through it, you can too." She got through misspelled spelling words, frustrating teachers and a seemingly perfect older sister. Small things, but when you're eight or nine they can be huge.

Thirty-five years after its publication, "Ramona and Her Father" is even more relevant today when Ramona's father is laid off his job. It's the little things Cleary gets right about how a job loss affects a family. Not going out to dinner. Buying the cheap cat food on sale. Ramona tries to cope the best she can; an ordinary girl facing extraordinary problems.

That's the magic in Beverly Cleary's writing. Maybe her characters don't fight to the death or have magic powers, but what they do face is life, hard knocks and all. I'm not knocking J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, but being brave can be the day to day things -- surviving the death of a cat or not getting that paper route you dearly wanted. Beverly Cleary's writing still reminds us that the magic is in the ordinary, and to celebrate it every day.


Happy birthday, Mrs. Cleary. You are forever timeless.

With a Perspective, I'm Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons.

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons blogs for a website for writers and bibliophiles.