Beverly Cleary Walking Tour of Portland, Oregon

Beverly Cleary School at Fernwood

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Some of the first books I clearly remember loving as a child were the Ramona Quimby books. Who doesn’t love that irrepressible little girl? It’s been literally decades since I read them so I don’t remember many details from the stories at all, but I still think of Ramona and company with fondness.

My husband and I are living in Portland, Oregon for a few months while he works here. This is Beverly Cleary/Ramona Quimby country! The local Multnomah County Library has published a walking tour map of sites from the Ramona books and author Beverly Cleary’s life. One afternoon several weeks ago, my husband, who’s always a good sport, agreed to walk the sites with me. I don’t know if Beverly Cleary is still widely read, but I thought that readers my age and slightly older might enjoy virtually tagging along.

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden

We began at Grant Park, at the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden. It was a small space that looked like it’s normally a splash pad. They probably have the water turned off because of COVID (Pools, etc. have not re-opened in this county since the initial shutdown). It was so fun to see Ramona, Henry, and Ribsy! Ribsy’s plaque reads “People liked Ribsy and Ribsy liked people. Ribsy was what you might call a well-adjusted dog. Ribsy 1964″ Ramona’s plaque reads “Only grownups would say boots were for keeping feet dry. Anyone in kindergarten knew that a girl should wear shiny red or white boots on the first rainy day, not to keep her feet dry, but to show off. That’s what boots were for–showing off, wading, splashing, stamping. Ramona the Pest 1968″ Henry’s plaque is pretty weathered and I couldn’t even read the picture I took of it.

The rest of the pictures aren’t really in any order except a loose grouping that made sense to me as I wrote this post!

Sites from Beverly Cleary’s Life

Above, two of Beverly Cleary’s childhood homes and a bakery that is the former site of the Hollywood library, which she visited.

Ramona Quimby/Henry Huggins Sites

Clockwise from upper left: 1. Klickitat Street, where Ramona and company lived. Ms. Cleary never lived there but supposedly she liked the name because it reminded her of “the sound of knitting needles.” 2. The field where Henry Huggins dug for earthworms, with the high school Cleary attended in the background. 3. The playground where Beezus waxed the slides to make them faster. 4. The Rite-Aid served as the Colossal Market from the books. 5. This abandoned supermarket was the QFC where Ramona got her boots stuck in the mud.

The Characters’ School

Beverly Cleary School at Fernwood. Ms. Cleary called the school Glenwood in her books.

There are a few more sites inside libraries that I can’t visit right now. Libraries here are only open for book pick ups so I haven’t been able to properly visit them. I hope they re-open before we leave Oregon but the prospect is not good.

Have you read any of Beverly Cleary’s books? She wrote more than 40! Which were your favorite? Do any authors or books have strong ties to your part of the world?

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  1. I’ve read lots of Cleary’s books and I think she’s still read. My son enjoyed Henry Huggins and Ralph S. Mouse. And I miss PNW libraries and bookstores!!! They are the best.

    1. It makes me happy to know that Cleary books are still being read! I’m glad that PNW libraries and bookstores are being safe but at the same time, I selfishly want to browse them while we’re here! We’re planning to leave in the next month so I don’t have much time left for that to happen.

  2. We’re only 2 1/2 hours from Portland, but haven’t done much in the way of exploring the city since we moved to the coast a little over 3 years ago. The library, however, is wonderful. I don’t know if it’s open due to COVID, but if so, take a peek inside. Hope you got some rain last night. It’s been drizzly here for the past few days. Much needed!!

    1. The library is still closed for browsing. We can pick up books at the curbside, which is better than nothing, but not the same. Hopefully it will reopen before we leave Oregon. I keep saying that about the library and Powell’s main store! Powell’s has opened a couple of rooms but not the whole store yet. I did visit one of their smaller stores though.

  3. We visited the sculpture garden when we stayed in Portland some years ago. I think I also remember a Beverly Cleary wing of the library. Thank you so much for sharing all these cool Beverly Cleary places. So many of us think of her fondly.

    1. There is something about Beverly Cleary and a few of the libraries around here. Maybe the children’s library is named after her? I re-read Beezus and Ramona on Friday and it felt like visiting old friends. I was surprised by how many scenes I remembered once I started the book.

    1. Beverly Cleary must be our Enid Blyton–beloved here but not widely read in other countries. She wrote so many great books for kids. You’re right, it was a lovely day!

  4. Very cool post! I loved the Ramona books when I was a kid (though I always connected more with older sister Beezus) but I didn’t remember that they were set in Oregon! Now I want to revisit Cleary’s books. I have such fond memories of them.

    1. I had completely forgotten they were set in Oregon too. When my husband learns his next job location, I start following local pages on social media. Portland’s newspaper coincidentally posted an “Oregon Bingo” image the day we rolled into town and one of the squares was visiting Ramona on Klickitat Street. I was so excited! I’m thinking of re-reading at least a few of them. I remember Ramona the best but I associate her with my younger sister so I must have related more to Beezus as well.

      1. That’s a great idea! Also, kinda neat that you get to move for your husband’s work. Hopefully that way you can figure out where you want to settle once he’s no longer on work travel so much.

        Honestly, the character of Cleary’s that I have the fondest memories of is Ralph S. Mouse. Even if I don’t remember those books all that well either.

        1. We’re enjoying traveling for now! We know we’ll end up right back where we started, in Asheville, NC. We still have our home there. But we love traveling so getting paid to travel for a little while seemed like a good deal to us!

          I liked Ralph too. I can remember my third-grade teacher’s assistant, who I didn’t like all that much because she and the teacher were really strict, reading a lot of these books to us after lunch every day. Funny how that’s my one clear memory of someone who wasn’t my favorite.

  5. Oh, how fun! We have also visited Klickitat St. and the park, but we didn’t do those other things. We did get to go into the downtown Portland library and see the Beverly Clearly children’s room, though. That library is worth a visit!

    I love Beverly Cleary and have probably read nearly all of her books. Ramona is one of the great characters of children’s literature, but I also love Ellen Tebbits. And Ralph the mouse. And Henry.

      1. We’ve had a nice summer here but I’m really getting cabin fever from being inside due to the smoke and fires. Rain is in the forecast tonight and tomorrow so I have my fingers crossed. Those firefighters could use some help! I hope you get some rain soon too!

    1. Someone else told me the library is great. I really hope it opens for browsing before we leave! I don’t remember Ellen Tebbits at all. I may have missed that one. I definitely remember Ralph and Henry.

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