K-Gr 4--Beverly Cleary always loved stories, but she struggled to learn to read and write. This compassionate narrative nonfiction account of Cleary overcoming challenges and following her dreams is full of inspirational messages and connections to her enduring classics. Following this narrative is a more factually detailed recounting of her life written in traditional nonfiction format, including photos and a time line. Though Cleary and readers are separated by nearly a century, many parts of the iconic author's childhood will resonate with today's young people: school struggles, the joy of playing with friends, and the importance of kind and supportive adults. Using a style and dynamism reminiscent of Louis Darling's original drawings in many of Cleary's books, Hohn's depiction of the young author looks remarkably like Ramona. The setting of her childhood is fleshed out with details like horse-drawn plows and carts and historically accurate clothing and hairstyles. Observant readers will notice many subtle nods to the books starting on the title page, where Cleary's legs are seen hanging from a tree branch above evidence of Ramona's mantra that "the first bite of an apple tastes best." Many are sure to be won over by the sheer nostalgia factor, but this book also contains a powerful message for young readers and dreamers: "Try! Anyone can talk about writing, but only those who sit down and do it will succeed." VERDICT A celebration of Cleary, literacy, and the pursuit of ambitious dreams, this charming picture book will enhance any biography collection.--Elizabeth Lovsin, Deerfield Public Library, ILCopyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Centenarian Cleary, who created such enduring characters as Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby and won the 1984 Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw, had a lonely early childhood as an only child growing up in rural Oregon. After her family moved to Portland, the first grader struggled with reading, unable to identify with boring stories assigned by her irascible teacher and left to wonder, "Where were the books about kids like her?" Years later, working as a librarian, she listened to complaints from children asking that same question and was inspired to write stories to which contemporary kids could relate. Debut author Conrad's storytelling is straightforward, ably conveying--in tandem with Hohn's homespun, vintage-style illustrations--the various eras of Cleary's life and her passion for writing and for nurturing readers. Ages 5-9. (Aug.)Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.