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As Beverly Cleary Prepares To Turn 100, Readers Cherish Memories

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Book lovers are invited to a special birthday party tomorrow, along with Ralph S. Mouse, Beezus and Ramona The Pest. Author Beverly Cleary is turning 100.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Back in 1950, Cleary set her first book on a street in Portland, Ore., just like the one she grew up on. And little boys are still reading it today.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Henry Huggins was in the third grade. His hair looked like a scrubbing brush. And most of his grown-up front teeth were in. He lived with his mother and father in a square white house on Klickitat Street.

INSKEEP: Klickitat Street. Beverly Cleary wrote Henry Huggins, as she told NPR's Debby Elliott, after working with children as a librarian.

BEVERLY CLEARY: Boys, particularly, asked, where were the books about kids like us? And there weren't any at that time.

INSKEEP: Cleary has a gift of writing from a child's perspective.

CLEARY: I'm just lucky. I do have very clear memories of childhood. I find that many people don't. But I'm just very fortunate that I have that kind of memory.

INSKEEP: Many people now have her memories of childhood. Ramona audiobooks have been the soundtrack for more long family drives than I would care to count.

MONTAGNE: Beverly Cleary will celebrate her 100th birthday with a slice of carrot cake. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.