Just Like Beverly: A Biography of Beverly Cleary (Growing to Greatness)

by Vicki Conrad (Author) David Hohn (Illustrator)

Just Like Beverly: A Biography of Beverly Cleary (Growing to Greatness)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Junior Library Guild Selection Just Like Beverly follows the life of beloved children's author Beverly Cleary from her early years in Oregon to her career as a successful writer who wrote stories, including the wildly popular Ramona and Henry Huggins series, for kids just like her. As a young girl, Beverly Cleary struggled to learn to read and found most children's books dull and uninteresting. She often wondered if there were any books about kids just like her. With hard work, and the encouragement of her parents and a special teacher, she learned to read and at a young age discovered she had a knack for writing. Beverly Cleary's story comes to life in this narrative nonfiction picture book as she grows to follow her dreams of writing the books she longed for as a child, becoming an award-winning writer and one of the most famous children's authors of all time. Beautiful illustrations capture Cleary's sense of humor, struggles, and triumphs, and are filled with Easter eggs throughout for fans to discover.
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School Library Journal

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, IL

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Review quotes

"Hohn captures her lively spirit through illustrations, reminiscent of those by Alan Tiegreen for Cleary's own books, that will keep young readers entertained. A loving and informative tribute worthy of celebrating Cleary's 103rd year of life." —Kirkus Reviews, starred

"Conrad writes with clarity and features significant details that bring Cleary's experiences and personality to life for kids today. Hohn makes good use of color, light, and pattern in his imaginative illustrations, which interpret the text sensitively. The artwork looks fresh and appealing while suggesting the period, the emotional resonance, and the upbeat spirit of Cleary's books."—Booklist, starred

"A celebration of Cleary, literacy, and the pursuit of ambitious dreams, this charming picture book will enhance any biography collection."—School Library Journal

"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."—Publishers Weekly

"This beautiful picture book biography of the incredible, beloved children's author and librarian Beverly Cleary is sure to delight both longtime fans and new readers alike." —Madeline S., Powells.com

""Just Like Beverly" is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school and community library collections" —Midwest Book Review
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little Bigfoot
Publication date
August 20, 2019
Growing to Greatness
BISAC categories
JNF038100 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States
JNF007030 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Literary
JNF007120 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Women
Library of Congress categories
United States
20th century
Women librarians
Women authors, American
Cleary, Beverly

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