Hello, fans of Beverly Cleary! If you’ve ever put down a book about Ramona Quimby (age eight) and thought, “man, if only Portland, Oregon was a real place,” there’s some shocking news for you: Portland is real and so are all the locations in your beloved stories! And yes, you can visit them all and relive every important moment of your childhood.
In honor of Drop Everything and Read day (April 12th), Mental Floss is running a series on all the children’s authors you knew and loved when you were a kid to get you into the spirit of reading and provide you with little tidbits of information you may have never known about the writer of such books as Dear Mr. Henshaw and The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
Here are some fun details about the inspirations for Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series:
Though Beverly Cleary herself grew up on 37th Street in Portland (just one of a few homes she lived in), she knew that her real street name wouldn’t grab imaginations the way Klickitat Street did, just a few streets over. “It reminded me of the sound of knitting needles,” she has said.
Another beloved Cleary character, Ellen Tebbits, also lived on a street with a name the author knew children would delight in saying: Tillamook Street. It’s real, too—and if you hang out near the intersection of Tillamook and 41st Avenue, you’ll have a vague idea of where Ellen Tebbits grew up.
Personally, I love the idea of people knocking on the door of each house on Tillamook street demanding to know if this is where Ellen Tebbits lived, but Mental Floss suggests just standing on the corner and taking it all in. And you’re probably going to want to avoid runnning around and shouting “Are you Ramona?” at every tiny girl with a bowl cut you see on the street. Partly because that’s creepy and partly because Ramona Quimby would now be 42 if she were a real person and would probably have a child with a bowl-cut of her very own. Or maybe not. I wish more authors would just give us little updates on what their characters would be like today for closure. Maybe Ramona is a high-powered fashion executive in LA? Or a chain-smoking single woman living in a studio in Bushwick? Wouldn’t that be something you’d like to know?
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