Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - A Girl From Yamhill
Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading. This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary. I'm sure you know who Beverly Cleary is - the wonderful creator of such characters as Ramona Quimby and her sister, Beezus - of Henry Huggins - of Ralph S. Mouse. She also wrote several YA books that I loved as a young teen - Fifteen and The Luckiest Girl particularly. This prolific author turned 100 years old earlier this year. Amazing! A Girl From Yamhill is a memoir telling of her early life in Oregon. See what you think:
Mother and I stand on the weathered and warped back steps looking up at my father, who sits, tall and handsome in work clothes, astride a chestnut horse. To one side lie the orchard and a path leading under the horse chestnut tree, past a black walnut and a peach-plum tree, to the privy. On the other side are the woodshed, the icehouse, and the cornfield, and beyond, a field of wheat. The horse obstructs my vision of the path to the barnyard, the pump house with its creaking windmill, the chicken coop, smokehouse, machine shed, and the big red barn, but I know they are there.
Mother holds a tin box that once contained George Washington tobacco and now holds my father's lunch. She hands it to him, and as he leans down to take it, she says 'I'll be so glad when this war is over and we can have some decent bread again.'
My father rides off in the sunshine to oversee the Old Place, land once owned by one of my great-grandfathers. I wave, sad to see my father leave, if only for a day.
Generations of children have read Beverly Cleary’s books. From Ramona Quimby to Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse to Ellen Tebbits, she has created an evergreen body of work based on the humorous tales and heartfelt anxieties of middle graders. But in A Girl from Yamhill, Beverly Cleary tells a more personal story—her story—of what adolescence was like. In warm but honest detail, Beverly describes life in Oregon during the Great Depression, including her difficulties in learning to read, and offers a slew of anecdotes that were, perhaps, the inspiration for some of her beloved stories.
For everyone who has enjoyed the pranks and schemes, embarrassing moments, and all of the other poignant and colorful images of childhood brought to life in Beverly Cleary’s books, here is the fascinating true story of the remarkable woman who created them.
This lovely author has also written a second memoir entitled My Own Two Feet that tells of her life in college to the publication of her first book. My life was certainly touched by her writing and my daughter's as well. I tip my hat to Beverly Cleary, the girl from Yamhill, Oregon.