At 101 years old, Newbery Medalist Beverly Cleary has left a mark on the imaginations of readers young and old through her many stories set on the fabled Klickitat Street. This fall, in celebration of the beloved writer and her work, HarperCollins Children’s Books is releasing special jacketed hardcovers of six of Cleary’s classic novels.
The reissues will feature new forewords by award-winning contemporary authors and illustrators, speaking to the enduring impact of Cleary’s writing both on their own storytelling and on today’s readers. And, for the first time in more than half a century, Cleary’s Henry Huggins series will be paired with the original illustrations by Louis Darling. The editions go on sale November 7.
Reflecting on Darling’s original artwork for her debut novel, Henry Huggins (1950), Cleary told PW, “I was very happy with his illustrations. I was a new author and I didn’t know what to expect, but I was very pleased when I saw what he created. He had a feel for the Northwest, and it showed in his portrayal of the world of Klickitat.”
The author recalled her first meeting with Darling. “My editor, Elizabeth Hamilton, took us both to lunch once, after my first book published. I came to the city and we all ate together. It was the only time I met him, but we became good friends. He was a very nice man.” Their collaboration spanned two decades, beginning with Cleary’s debut, Henry Huggins, and concluding with Runaway Ralph in 1970, the year of Darling’s death.
The books contained Darling’s illustrations until 2006–2007, when Tracy Dockray was commissioned to provide new artwork for the series. In 2014, Jacqueline Rogers became the new official illustrator on Cleary’s titles, with her artwork appearing on all subsequent editions prior to the forthcoming reissues.
The reissues project was inspired by the Darling exhibit held at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., in 2016, which included original artwork for the books. While he was curating the show, author Tony DiTerlizzi reached out to HarperCollins to share his enthusiasm for the illustrations, and the idea for a reissues line emerged.
The following titles will be released in special editions, featuring new forewords:
- Henry Huggins (with an introduction by Tony DiTerlizzi)
- Henry and Beezus (with an introduction by Marla Frazee)
- Henry and Ribsy (with an introduction by Tom Angleberger)
- Henry and the Paper Route (with an introduction by Jeff Kinney)
- Henry and the Clubhouse (with an introduction by Jarrett Krosoczka)
- Ribsy (with an introduction by Cece Bell)
Here, we share excerpts from the forewords to three of the new editions:
Henry and Beezus
Foreword by Marla Frazee
Apologies to all other Cleary illustrators, but I can’t read a Beverly Cleary book without the illustrations by Louis Darling. It is as unthinkable as reading Winnie-the-Pooh without Shephard’s illustrations. When my sons were growing up, I scoured garage sales and used book stores until I had collected the whole Cleary/Darling library. The books were old and battered, yes, but because they had that rare chemistry every illustrator hopes to achieve between the words and the pictures, they were perfect.
Many years later, I read Sara Pennypacker’s draft of what eventually became the Clementine series and I knew this was an opportunity for me to try my hand at, and pay homage to, that Cleary/Darling dynamic. I photocopied my favorite Darling illustrations from all my old copies and taped them up around my studio. They fluttered around while I illustrated the first of the seven Clementine books, inspiring me. But also frustrating me. And mocking me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come close to that Louis Darling magic of being both exacting and fluid at the same time. With ink. Ugh. It reminded me of walking a tightrope—not that I’ve ever done that.
There’s also a timelessness to his characters. They still resonate. A cowlick, a cuff, an untied sneaker, a determined walk, slouched shoulders, a proud tilt of the head, a humiliating tumble from a bike, a dog with fleas––it sure isn’t a shiny world. But it is a familiar one. I think that is Louis Darling’s real gift, beyond his expert draftsmanship and storytelling. His impeccable draftsmanship allows us to see that Cleary’s characters are truly like us in all the ways that still, and will always, matter.
Henry and the Paper Route
Foreword by Jeff Kinney
No grown-up has ever captured a kid’s attention, and imagination, more masterfully than Beverly Cleary. The author of more than 40 books, Cleary has spent her lifetime writing fictional stories based on her real-life experiences as a child growing up in Oregon in the 1920s.
So how could a woman who was born before the Great Depression write books that reached millions of kids around the world, books that are still being discovered by new readers today? Because Cleary knew a secret all good storytellers know: childhood is universal.
I had my first encounter with a Beverly Cleary book in the late 1970s, when I discovered a copy of Ramona Quimby, Age 8, on the shelves of my local library. What caught my eye was the image of the girl on the cover, whose dirty face and unruly hair made her look a bit wild, and definitely interesting.
By pulling that book down off the shelf, I was fulfilling a part of Beverly Cleary’s mission when she started writing books for kids, which was to tell stories about characters that kids could actually relate to. As the older sibling to an attention-seeking and rule-breaking younger brother, I could definitely relate to Beezus, Ramona’s beleaguered older sister.
After that first book, I was hooked. On subsequent trips to the library, I checked out the whole Ramona series, then tore through the rest of the Beverly Cleary catalogue. Even when the characters were on the more fanciful side, like the rodent hero in Ralph the Mouse, they were still “real” to me in the most important sense: I could see some part of myself in them.
Of course, Cleary’s books were more than just the words. They were beautifully illustrated, and no artist better captured the spirit of Cleary’s tales than Louis Darling, who brought Henry Huggins and many of Cleary’s other characters to life with elegant pen-and-ink drawings. The pairing of Cleary and Darling brought the inhabitants of Klickitat Street into three dimensions and made them real for generations of kids, and the partnership shows how powerful words and pictures together can be. Darling’s drawings perfectly complemented Cleary’s stories and cemented their status as modern classics.
It’s a testament to the enduring talents of both Cleary and Darling that the books are read by my own two sons, decades after they were written.
Foreword by Cece Bell
I wasn’t the greatest reader as a kid. I knew how to read, but I was not all that interested in reading. I hadn’t found any books that grabbed me, that sucked me in and made me want to keep on reading past the first few pages. When I did finish a book, I’d think, “Yeah, that was pretty good.” But I was never in a hurry to find another book to read.
Some of the books that came my way were about kids who were different from everyone else because of some kind of magical power or amazing ability. Others were about fairly ordinary kids who suddenly found themselves in the middle of the most incredible and outlandish situations. Sure, these books were fun—but as the only deaf kid in my school, I didn’t need a reminder that I was different from everyone else. And thanks to my own wacky adventures with my super powerful hearing aid, I felt like I had already experienced plenty of outlandish situations, thank you very much. What I wanted were books with characters who were just like the me that I knew—the ordinary me that I thought no one could see, since I was outwardly so different.
Luckily for me, once upon a time there was a children’s librarian named Beverly Cleary who tried to find books with characters who were just like the kids at her library. She couldn’t find many, so she decided to write her own. One of her many books—and the first Beverly Cleary book that I picked out to read—was Ellen Tebbits. What a fortunate choice! For the first time ever in my young reading life, I finally saw myself—the ordinary version of myself—represented in a book. Just like Ellen, I was in the third grade, and I “had no really best friend.” Not only that, but Ellen had a “terrible secret,” and I did, too! Ellen’s secret was that she wore woolen underwear under her clothes—a “high-necked union suit” with “short sleeves and short legs”—and she was terrified that the other girls in her ballet class would notice it when she changed into her dance costume. I had a terrible secret under my clothes, too—an ugly and clunky hearing aid that I hoped my classmates would never see. For once, someone out there—in this case a real-live writer—understood me. As soon as I finished Ellen Tebbits, I was finally in a hurry to find another book to read. But it had to be by Beverly Cleary.