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My Own Two Feet
Cover of My Own Two Feet
My Own Two Feet
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The New Yorker called Beverly Cleary's first volume of memoirs, A Girl From Yamhill, a warm, honest book, as interesting as any novel. Now the creator of the classic children's stories millions grew up with continues her own fascination story. Here is Beverly Cleary, from college years to the publication of her first book. It is a fascinating look at her life and a writing career that spans three generations, continuing to capture the hearts and imaginations of children of all ages throughout the world.

The New Yorker called Beverly Cleary's first volume of memoirs, A Girl From Yamhill, a warm, honest book, as interesting as any novel. Now the creator of the classic children's stories millions grew up with continues her own fascination story. Here is Beverly Cleary, from college years to the publication of her first book. It is a fascinating look at her life and a writing career that spans three generations, continuing to capture the hearts and imaginations of children of all ages throughout the world.

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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    7.1
  • Lexile:
    1110
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    7 - 9

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Bus Trip to a New Life

    The three of us, Mother, Dad, and I, stood on the sidewalk outside the Greyhound bus station in Portland, Oregon, searching for words we could not find or holding back words we could not speak. The sun, bronze from the smoke of September forest fires, cast an illusory light. Nothing seemed real, but it was. I was leaving, actually leaving, for California, the Golden State, land of poppies, big red geraniums, trees heavy with oranges, palm trees beneath cloudless skies, and best of all, no Depression. I had seen it all on postcards and in the movies, and so had the rest of my class at Grant High School. California was the goal of many. John Steinbeck had not yet, in 1934, revised our thinking.

    And now I was one of the lucky ones going to this glorious place where people made movies all day and danced the night away. I was escaping the clatter of typewriters in business school and going instead to college. As I stood there in the smoky light in my neat navy blue dress, which Mother had measured a fashionable twelve inches from the floor when I made it, and with a five-dollar bill given to me by my father for emergencies rolled in my stocking, I tried to hide my elation from my parents.

    Dad, I know, was sad to see his only child leave home, but the decision had been his. He had thoughtfully smoked his pipe for several evenings, mulling over the unexpected letter from Mother's cousin Verna Clapp inviting me to spend the winter with her family in Ontario in Southern California. I could attend tuition free Chaffey Junior College, where she was the librarian.

    Mother had dismissed the letter, saying, "Isn't that just like Verna, so impractical." The Depression had made Oregonians relentlessly practical. Dad, however, did not dismiss the letter. Finally, after he rapped his pipe against his ashtray, he said, "Beverly is going." Dad, a quiet man, had watched tension build between Mother and me as I resisted her struggles to mold me into her ideal of a perfect daughter. He had also observed my increasing unhappiness over an obsessive young man I shall call Gerhart, six years older than I, whom I had come to dislike but who was unshakable because Mother encouraged him. "Now, you be nice to Gerhart," Mother often said. "He's a good boy, and he's lonely." Mother longed to have me popular with boys. Although I liked boys and was friendly with them at school, I was not concerned with popularity. As the months wore on, I wasn't at all nice to Gerhart. I was horrid.

    At first Mother thought Dad's pronouncement was preposterous-a young girl traveling all that distance alone, she couldn't think of such a thing. Even though I was eighteen, Mother always referred to me as a young girl. Eventually she relented. She was anxious for me somehow to go to college so I would have a profession to fall back on. "We can't leave you a lot of money," she often said, "but we want to leave you prepared to take care of yourself and any children you might have. Widows so often have to run boardinghouses."

    Now, beside the Greyhound bus, Mother fretted. Fearful dangers lurked in California: earthquakes, infantile paralysis, evil strangers. Heaven only knew what might happen to a young, inexperienced girl. "If she doesn't have any sense now, she never will have," my father said.

    "Maybe we should have packed your galoshes," fussed Mother. "It must rain down there sometime."

    Because Dad was present, I did not say, "Oh, Mother." Instead I said, "I might not need them," and then, to soothe her, "and you can always mail them if I do." I had no intention of wearing galoshes in California, not ever, no matter how much it rained, if it ever did rain. Postcards did not show rain in California, and the only...

About the Author-
  • Beverly Cleary is one of America's most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, Oregon, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children's books when she grew up.

    Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, "Where are the books about kids like us?" she remembered her teacher's encouragement and was inspired to write the books she'd longed to read but couldn't find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born!

    Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. Dear Mr. Henshaw won the Newbery Medal, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 4, 1995
    This second installment of the Newbery Medalist's autobiography (after A Girl from Yamhill) begins during the '30s, with the young Cleary leaving her home state of Oregon to attend junior college in California. The volume ends in 1949, with Morrow's acceptance of Cleary's first novel, the now-classic Henry Huggins (initially written as a short story entitled ``Spareribs and Henry''). The author's unsentimental recollections of herself as a student in the Depression, a librarian and a newlywed are told humorously and candidly. Friends and adversaries-her ever-critical mother, formidable professors, congenial classmates, gentlemen acquaintances (including future husband Clarence)-are as colorfully sketched as the characters appearing in Cleary's beloved novels. Able to laugh at her own mistakes and to recognize universal truths in everyday life, Cleary will endear herself even more to her fans with this account of her struggle for independence. Ages 12-up.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 1995
    Gr 7 Up-This sequel to A Girl from Yamhill (Morrow, 1988) begins with Cleary starting college. The only child of Depression-era parents, she leaves her Oregon home to live with relatives and go to school tuition-free in California. Her vivid recollections of the various stops on the bus; her room in her aunt's home; and her many friends, including a few romances, are continued evidence of this author's ability to convince readers. It's all in the details. Cleary handles her own life well, giving it the shape that real life most often does not have, offering readers a sense of what it was like growing up in the 1930s, going to college when it was not common for women to do so, marrying and working during World War II. She also has those incidents that are common in coming-of-age books, fiction or otherwise: young love, wardrobes, defying parents, a first apartment, a first job (as a children's librarian). The book ends with her first book, inspired by her inner drive to write books for children who are not committed readers. So the book ends with a beginning. YAs who grew up on Cleary's books will find this one readable and inviting as they mature into young adulthood.-Ruth K. MacDonald, Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA

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