Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary

Today I want to wish a very Happy 104th Birthday to the marvelous Beverly Cleary, writer and creator of the long-running Ramona books.

The books revolve around Ramona, the perpetual ten-year-old, and her sister Beezus. They’re timeless classics that have been around since 1955. Many in my generation grew up reading about Ramona and have very fond memories about the stories. The last book in the series, Ramona’s World, was released in 1999, when Beverly was 83 years young.

Beverly Cleary and the Ramona books were inspiration for my own book, A Moment in Magic Hour. My hope was that, in writing Magic Hour, adults could take a step back through time to their childhood with a sweet story full of simple lessons and nostalgic laden memories.

In an interview discussing the legacy of the Ramona series, and what Ramona may be like as an adult, Cleary said she believes that Ramona will be all right when she grows up. “She’ll do something creative. She liked to draw because her father liked to draw.”

What a lovely thought. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Cleary. And thank you for the continued inspiration.


John Anthony writes.
I came across a short text document I wrote many years ago. It was back in early 2000, and I had jotted down an idea I had for a story. It was about a boy—probably me—growing up in the 1970s. It’s the idea that would eventually become my novella, A MOMENT IN MAGIC HOUR.

I remember writing the idea down. I was feeling nostalgic, having just left behind another year and entering the new millennium. My childhood seemed to be ever further away. And at thirty-one, I was well into my adulthood, which seemed to have crept up on me without warning.

The little idea remained in my head for several years, appearing at the times I’d be wistfully looking back on my life. The story continued to ferment and grow over the years, until 2014, when I began to focus on getting the thoughts out of my head, and turned into words on paper.

There is a reason I am sharing this with you. It demonstrates how an idea—in my case, just a few short paragraphs long—can develop over time. If you allow your desire and personal experience to feed that idea, it will continue to grow and develop. At first you may feel the final product is so far away it’s unreachable, but as the idea grows, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, you will witness it become something more beautiful than you ever anticipated.

All things begin with a seed. An idea. We may not see what that seed will become—and to others it may be folly—but if it’s important to us, we’ll nourish it to see what blooms.

For those of you who have read A MOMENT IN MAGIC HOUR, I’m excited to show you the seed that became the novel.

Be well and do good things, my friends.

January 5th, 2000.

There’s a time in everyone’s life when the world doesn’t go past the end of your block. Anything that matters is visible from your front yard, and the people that are important lay on the grass with you, looking up into the blue sky, pointing out shapes in the clouds as the warm rays from the sun wash your faces. School is out, the neighborhood is buzzing with activity as bikes whiz up and down the street, trolling for other kids to run out the front door, pick up their bike off the front lawn, kick the grass off the pedals, and race off after you on some kind of adventure.

That’s how my tenth summer started. We all have defining moments in our lives. The summer of 1977 was such a time, for me. I was ten-years-old and found out I was going to have a third little sister.

Would this make a decent novel?