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Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary's childhood home is still a favorite local landmark in Yamhill.

Living in a small town, small things get over looked and others seem to explode. In recent years, Yamhill received national attention on a radio program when many wanted a certain book banned from the schools. Nobody even remembers the name of the book anymore around here. (My kids were not even in the school at the time and so I was not even part of the discussion.) It's those big issues that take some thunder and make it to national coverage, I guess. But, around here there is a name that deserves and has received big attention.

I am so glad Beverly Cleary is still a charmed name in the town; the small town knows who is important. You can find her books in the local school libraries and kids still read her stories. The teachers and families of the area have passed on her books to their children.

This past week, I had the fortunate opportunity to help with a Beverly Cleary celebration. It began with an art contest from the elementary and junior high local schools. On Saturday, a community party was held at the local pizzeria, complete with all the things kids would like for a celebration. There were activities for kids to color characters from her books, cookie decorating, tiara making, balloons, time for tea, and free cake! The decorations were charming as they hung from a twinkle lit tree indoors. Historical portraits told about the beloved author, while a slideshow projected on the wall sharing interesting facts from throughout her life. A marvelous mural was even painted by local artist, Kara Weber, who is certainly going to have more work to come.

The party didn't stop there. We had a historical walking tour of the town that showcased sites from one of her early books, "Emily's Runaway Imagination, 1961." This story actually shares bits of history from the author as it is loosely written on her own growing up time in Yamhill, when she was young. It is a great book that shares about living and helping a community grow. The walking tour enthusiasts braved the drizzle of rain to have a picture moment in front of her first family farm home. To capture the historical moments even further, we had a connection for a Model A Ford car to help set the stage for this turn of the century author and her book set in the early 1920's. Last, it was complete with a moment on reading as the nearest library is coming to the town for the summer with a bookmobile because Yamhill still does not have a library of it's own.

Sometimes living in the headlines is not what it is all about. This celebration was simply marvelous! Beverly Cleary wrote about ordinary kids in the neighborhood because she believed they had interesting lives. This is why so many still read her books today. We had a great turn out of about 100+ people Thank you Beverly Cleary! Happy Birthday from your little town of Yamhill!

Beverly Cleary mural painted by local artist, Kara Weber.

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