A Celebration of Children’s Fiction
In celebration of Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday, let us take a look at some of the world’s most-loved children’s authors and their novels.
Beverly Cleary, Beezus and Ramona
Nine-year-old Beezus struggles to get along with her four-year-old sister, Ramona. She is too eccentric, insisting on pretending to be the Easter rabbit and pretending owning a lizard named Ralph. Not only that, she writes in library books and wreaks havoc in her painting classes. Beezus always feels guilty about not getting along with her sister, but on her 10th birthday, her aunt Beatrice makes her realize that while she may not always like Ramona, she will always love her.
Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona is the first in what became an eight-book series about the Quimby family. The series tells realistic stories about childhood and growing up, much like most of Cleary’s stories. Years after her retirement, more kids still relate to the stories she wrote decades ago.
Lois Lowry, The Giver
In a perfect world, everything is balanced and precise. Everyone lives equally stable lives, is given roles to play in their communities, and lives comfortably all through their lives. Through Sameness, pain and strife have been removed, but so have happiness and love. Jonas, on his twelfth year, receives a prestigious role, the Receiver of Memory. His journey through this responsibility makes him realize that Sameness may not be what humanity needs to thrive after all.
Writer Lois Lowry is known for tackling heavy topics such as the holocaust and dystopian futures and making them enjoyable for children. She is one of only five writers to have been awarded the Newberry Medal twice, first in 1990 for Number the Stars, then in 1993 for The Giver. Even though it has been two decades since these books have been published, they still keep finding newer and younger audiences.
- S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
The Pevensie siblings were only four of the many children evacuated from London in the midst of the Second World War. They are sent to the home of Professor Digory Kirke in the countryside, where they stumble upon an old wardrobe, which doubles as a door to a magical land. However, every time they stay in Narnia, time slows down in the real world, and for every year they spend in their world, hundreds pass by in Narnia. Soon, they discover that they must not only learn to save and serve Narnia but also learn how to slowly let go of it as well.
- S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series has been published in 47 languages and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. His works are lauded for its vivid imagery, making children all over the world hope that their wardrobes too held their own magical worlds.
- K. Rowling, Harry Potter
Harry Potter was just an average orphan who lived in a cupboard under the stairs. That is, until a giant man named Hagrid bust their door open and told Harry that he had magical powers and that he was destined to save the world, all because he possessed a lightning scar on his forehead.
At the turn of the millennium, J. K. Rowling captivated a whole new generation of children with her Wizarding World and the stories of an unlikely hero, Harry Potter. While the books started out as children’s fiction, they slowly matured, just like the characters. It has been almost five years since the publication of its final copy, but it still has a huge fan following.
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Alice was only chasing after a rabbit who had a pocket watch when she mistakenly fell into Wonderland. In an attempt to find her way back home, she meets several odd characters including a talking door knob, some singing flowers, a wise caterpillar, a Mad Hatter, and a temperamental Red Queen.
It has been a long time since Lewis Carroll was alive, but his story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is still a well-known and well-loved piece of children’s literature. His eccentricity played well into creating the completely nonsensical, yet longed-for world of Wonderland. Characters such as the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat are still popular to this day.
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