Your kids may not be old enough yet to appreciate the silly antics of Ramona or the crazy adventures of Ribsy, but it’s likely that these book characters hold a special place in your heart. It just so happens that beloved children’s author, Beverly Cleary, was born and raised in Portland. She spent her childhood exploring her own Northeast Portland neighborhood, which later became the home to many of her book’s characters, including the adventures of Ramona and her friends. Embark on a scavenger hunt with your little adventurers to discover all the cool places that author Beverly Cleary immortalized in her work. It’s a great way to play tourist in your own town, and to find out a little more about this cherished author and her love for our fair city.
Your first stop on your tour should be Grant Park (at Northeast 33rd Avenue, Portland), where the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children is located. The three sculptures – one of Ribsy, who is playing in the water, one of Henry Huggins and one of Ramona. The Ramona and Ribsy sculptures are also both water features, which are turned on during the warmer months for kids to splash and play in. To find the sculptures at Grant Park, head into the park via the entrance on Northeast 33rd Avenue, between Knott Street and Broadway, then find the playground. The sculpture garden is just behind the playground, on the south side.
True Beverly Cleary fans will be quite familiar with the places that the author uses over and over again in her books – Klickitat Street, Tillamook Street and more. And, these actual streets exist in Portland! Stop by the Hollywood Library (4040 Northeast Tillamook Street, Portland) to view the Beverly Cleary Neighborhood Map, and then set off into the surrounding blocks to find the home where Beverly Cleary lived as a child (which is currently for sale, for those who want to truly live like Cleary’s characters), Ramona’s house, Henry Huggins’ paper route and more.
Continue your Beverly Cleary exploring with a trip to the Gresham Library (385 Northwest Miller Avenue, Gresham, OR), located about 30-minutes away. This library is home to two special Terracotta Ramona Statues – one of a cheerful Ramona and one of an arms-crossed, pouting Ramona (as she often was found in her books!) – each with a special passage to go along with it. While you’re here, do some hunting in the library to find the section with Beverly Cleary books and sit down with your kids and read a few chapters aloud or check one out to bring home!
Take some advice from Ramona who said it best, “She was not a slowpoke grownup. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting that she had to find out what happened next.”
Get out into Portland to do some Beverly Cleary exploring and find out what happens!
What’s your favorite stop along this little Beverly Cleary tour?
— Katie Kavulla