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.
DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan's books include Grandpa's Corner Store, A Castle on Viola Street, City Green and Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. She lives in Philadelphia. In Her Own Words...
"When I was a girl growing up in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest sibling of one brother and two sisters, I never thought that my art was among the very best. My mother and father recognized my art ability early on. It was because of their sensitivity that I eventually began to acknowledge my talent and enjoy my life as an artist. I remember when I was eight years old, looking at a book one day and thinking: I can make a better book. It was from that day on that I knew I wanted to be an artist and author of children's books. Consequently, whenever anyone asked me if wanted to be an artist When I grew up, I answered, "I am all artist already."
"I always loved a sharp pencil and a new piece of paper. As a young girl, I drew all the time. Even as a teenager, I stayed in my room and drew for hours. My favorite books as a child were the Madeline series, anything by Dr. Seuss, The Five Chinese Brothers, and A Big Ball of String.
"After attending college a[ the School of Visual Arts in New York, I moved to Kansas City, Missouri" in 1978 to work with Hallmark cards. While living in Kansas City, I set tip interviews with New York publishers whenever I went back home. My first book was Published by Western Publishing in 1980. Since then, That New Baby has sold over one million copies. It is even printed in Indonesian!
"Before I begin a book I can see the whole thing. I can sense tile color and pacing. Depending on the type of manuscript I am working with, sometimes I take a lot of photographs, sometimes I need to do historical research, sometimes I draw from my head. Usually, it is very easy for me to draw. If I find myself erasing too much, I will start all over and try to envision the picture in a new way.
My characters are based on people I know or people I have seen. I want children to be able to see themselves or their neighbors when they look at my illustrations. I want them to feel familiar. Many of my personal experiences become the source of inspiration for my stories. The story of Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen was born from the three years I spent working at a soup kitchen while I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn. City Green was inspired by the garden lot that I passed on my way there. Inspiration for Grandpa's Corner Store comes from a local grocer with many loyal customers (including me) in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. Before writing, A Castle on Viola Street, I worked for several months building and renovating houses in Camden, New Jersey, through a nonprofit group like Habitat for Humanity. I donate a percentage of my royalties from each book to the organization that they support. This is my way of contributing back to the communities and purposes my books provide.
Currently, I live in a historical town just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I like living in a small town. It is quiet and easy to think. But the moment I cross the Verranzano Bridge into Brooklyn, I am enchanted by the man sweeping outside the little bodega. I am charmed by three women talking on a street corner, holding the red-and-white strings of their bakery boxes. There are teenagers in curlers and kids scooping puddle water with spoons. From fire escapes to gum spots I see life in the buildings and movement on the sidewalks. I take out my sharp pencil and a clean piece of paper. I am an artist already."