Having my memory jogged, I immediately had to ask myself a horrible yet pressing question. Beverly Cleary first started publishing ~1950s...and so, as morbid as it felt, I had to know: was she still alive? Naturally, I went to everyone's #1 most factual source in the world: Wikipedia. And holy crap, she is still alive--at a fierce and impressive 94-years-old. I can't fully explain how happy this made me. She's an iconic person to me--one of the greatest writers of children's literature. Being a writer myself, though nowhere near that league (Nowhere. Near.), I just felt so happy upon rediscovering her.
Because here's the thing. When I was in elementary school, I sent her a letter (a paper one - that's what we did back in the 80s) telling her how much I liked her books and that I wanted to be an author too. And guess what? I got a response back. It was a postcard, which I imagine her publisher had en masse with autographs and messages like "Thanks for the letter." After not being able to keep up with my own mail, I totally understand the necessity of stock responses, and she's gotten a lot more than me over the years. But get this. My response was only a couple lines long, but it showed that my letter had actually been read. It said: Good luck with your writing!
This would be the coolest story ever if I was able to say I still had the postcard. I don't. I kept it for a long time, but when you're that young, you don't always fully grasp the importance of things like that. Still, I've got the memory, and it's crazy to think that an author who has won award after award and had elementary schools named after her took 30 seconds to read my letter and respond with something unique and relevant to me. The fact that it was about my writing, which I've now inexplicably made a career of, is simply surreal.
If you grew up with those books, then you know what I'm talking about. If you don't know them but have elementary school kids in your life, pick them up. Despite when they were written, there's something very timeless about them and only a few dated references. I don't know what the movie will be like. Like all book-to-movie projects, it's a roll of the dice. But, like all book-to-movie projects, it will also create a surge in sales and introduce a new generation to these books, which is a great thing.