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Arts & Culture

OPB Celebrates Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday with Rare Interview in First-Ever Documentary About Author’s Life 


Oregon Art Beat special “Discovering Beverly Cleary” premieres April 7 on OPB TV and online

Next month, OPB is commemorating the 100th birthday of Oregon author Beverly Cleary with a new Oregon Art Beat special “Discovering Beverly Cleary.” It features an extremely rare, new interview with the author herself, and takes a look at her life, her work and her enduring legacy in the world of children’s literature. The half-hour special premieres Thursday, April 7 at 8 p.m. on OPB TV and online.  

Cleary is an award-winning author whose books have been treasured by millions of young readers. She created characters who have been loved by three generations: Ramona Quimby and her big sister Beezus; Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and his motorcycle; Socks the Cat and many more.  

Among Beverly Cleary’s many prestigious accomplishments, she is most often credited with getting children excited about reading. As a young girl growing up in Portland, Cleary struggled with reading and found herself in a low reading group—an experience that gave her sympathy for the problems of other struggling readers. Cleary set out to write books that she longed to read, but was unable to find on library shelves—stories about her neighborhood, and kids like the ones she knew.  

Today, Cleary is regarded as one of the great American writers of children’s literature. More than fifty years after she wrote Henry Huggins, her characters are still enjoyed by young readers around the world.   She has received a Newbery Medal, multiple Newbery Honors, a National Book Award, a National Medal of Arts, as well as being named a Library of Congress Living Legend, among many awards. More than 91 million copies of her books have been published in 14 languages.  

“Discovering Beverly Cleary,” which filmed as Cleary was approaching her 100th birthday, is the only documentary ever made about the author. It takes a rare look back at the author’s life and celebrated career. It explores her strong connection to Oregon—from her time growing up in Yamhill and Northeast Portland—as Oregon Art Beat tours the Portland neighborhood that she made famous in her Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby books.  

The program also discusses her impact on the community, from getting kids excited about reading, to the national fundraising effort that created statues in Portland’s Grant Park honoring Cleary and paying tribute to her characters.  

The special features interviews with:  

  • Caldecott Award winning illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky, authors Brian Doyle, Renee Watson, Dhonielle Clayton, Eric Kimmel and Laura O. Foster.
  • David Reuther, Beverly Cleary’s long-time editor
  • Ana Mari Cauce, President of University of Washington, where Cleary earned a degree in library science, and Henry Bruce, the Dean of the University of Washington iSchool.  

In conjunction with Cleary’s 100th birthday, on April 2, OPB and the Multnomah County Library are hosting a free community celebration event at both the Hollywood Library and the Hollywood Theatre in Northeast Portland. The event will offer the opportunity to:  

  • See an advance screening of the Oregon Art Beat’s “Discovering Beverly Cleary” special before it airs on OPB TV
  • Take a tour of the neighborhood that Beverly Cleary made famous Sign a birthday card for Beverly Cleary
  • Receive a free Beverly Cleary neighborhood walking guidebook (for the first 100 families)
  • Watch Beverly Cleary illustrator Tracy Dockray illustrate Ramona
  • Take a photo with Ramona  

OPB is also partnering with the Oregon State Library system to celebrate with the community in libraries across the state. Check local libraries for an event near you.   “Discovering Beverly Cleary: An Oregon Art Beat Special” is produced by Katrina Sarson and is edited by Lisa Suinn Kallem. It premieres Thursday, April 7 at 8 p.m. on OPB TV and will be replayed throughout the month (check your local schedule). It can also be viewed online at

For more information about Beverly Cleary and the Oregon Art Beat special, along with photo galleries, video extras, an interactive map and more, visit   


About Oregon Art Beat

Since 2000, OPB’s award-winning Oregon Art Beat has served as a powerhouse of arts reporting—profiling artists, musicians, and artisans from around the state and beyond. Now in its 17th season, show producers and crew have traveled extensively to capture the eclectic mix of creative talent in the Northwest. The program airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 a.m. and 6 p.m. In the Mountain Time Zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays and repeats at 7 p.m. on Sundays. “Discovering Beverly Clearyis supported by The Kinsman Foundation, Kay Kitagawa and Andy Johnson-Laird, Sharon and Keith Barnes, the Oregon Arts Commission, Ronni Lacroute, Wyss Foundation and Blaine Morley and Elizabeth Large. More information is available online at

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