Saturday, September 24, 2011
Book Review: A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
I love this book! Love love love! If you are a Beverly Cleary fan - and I know you are - you must read it too!
It isn't precisely a children's book although the font does make it accessible for younger readers (and at my library it is shelved in the children's non-fiction section although very oddly, not in biography.) However there are a couple of mentions of sex (just mentions though, where Beverly would say something like "and this would have been a time for my mother to talk about sex with me, but she did not,") so keep that in mind if you are recommending it to a younger reader. There is absolutely not racy.
Born in 1916, most of Beverly's young life was rough. Her family fell on hard times many years before the Depression. They had to sell the farm and her father had to get a job he hated working as a bank security guard. In the early 1930s he lost that job too. You could really see where Ramona and Her Father came from with Mr. Quimby losing his job and the family having to economize. In fact, you see these hints throughout the book. When Beverly said they stopped using toothpaste and used baking powder instead because it was cheaper, it reminded me of when Ramona squeezed out the entire tube of toothpaste in the sink and one reason why it was so horrible for her to have done that was that the toothpaste cost money. Beverly isn't picked to be in the school play so they let her be an alternate, like Ramona. When Beverly goes to her friend's house, she tap-dances on the front step instead of knocking, just like in Ellen Tebbits. I don't remember the other books very well (Henry Huggins and Socks and Otis Spofford) so I don't even know how many references I'm missing.
The book is sweet and written simply. Ms. Cleary once said that many children wrote to tell her they loved her books so much because she left out all the description in favor of story, and she does the same here. Her writing will feel familiar and homey, and yet it's just as wonderful read for an adult as it would be for a teen. When her school librarian tells her that she should write children's books, just try to stop your heart from melting.
I am so excited to read the sequel! The first one ends just as she heads off to college. She had an icky boyfriend in high school and I am so thrilled he wasn't Mr. Cleary. Who I am excited to meet eventually!
This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.
I bought this book at my local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.