Judy Blume opened up about one of her regrets in life: never meeting beloved author Beverly Cleary, who died last week at age 104.
“I so regret never having met you,” she continued. “You will not be forgotten.”
“Once I had the chance to get a quote from @judyblume about Beverly Cleary and this is what she said,” Harmanci wrote.
“When I began to write, in the late 60s, I’d go to the public library and carry home armloads of books,” the quote from Blume began. “At night, I’d read them, then divide them into piles. These are books I find boring. I don’t want to write books like these. But over here are books that delight and inspire me. No books delighted and inspired the way Beverly’s Cleary’s did.”
Blume admitted that she even once fell off of the couch while reading one of Cleary's books because she was laughing so hard.
“All of Beverly’s books were funny, honest, and refreshing. They still are,” Blume said. “My daughter was reading them in second grade. She once had to have a scary test at the hospital. They sat her in a wheelchair while she waited. For company, besides me, she had a Beverly Cleary book. She seemed happy and relaxed, laughing all the while.”
The tradition of reading Cleary’s books continued through the generations. Blume’s daughter had her son listen to Cleary’s books repeatedly until he learned how to read himself.
“I wish I could meet Beverly,” she wrote. “The closest I got was when our mutual publisher switched a packet of fan mail quite a few years ago. She got mine, I got hers, and I admit I read a couple of letters meant for her. Most of them were about Ramona. Who doesn’t love Ramona?”
The mix-up ended up launching a correspondence between the two beloved children's authors.
“I wrote her a little then and sent her mail on — and she included a note to me with the packet she forwarded,” Blume’s quotes to Harmanci continued. “She cautioned me not to get caught up in the demands of the teachers and students. She was concerned that if I did it would interfere with my writing.”
“I’m always tickled when I meet young readers who say, ‘I love your Ramona books,’” Blume added. “Then I explain that I love Ramona, too, but I didn’t write those books, Beverly Cleary did. They give me a sheepish look then, and I tell them it’s OK. What’s important is that they’re reading and loving the experience.”
“Beverly’s books have touched generations of readers and I can’t imagine kids growing up without them," Blume concluded to Harmanci. "What kind of world would that be?”
Cleary's eyesight was failing in the years before her death, according to a 2011 story from The New York Times, but she still made time to read her fan mail.
"One little girl wrote recently that she had to hurry home from school and lock herself in because her mother was working and the neighborhood wasn’t safe; reading helped her through many a long, lonely night," Cleary told the outlet, adding, "I wrote her back."
Cleary died on Thursday in Carmel, California. Her first book, “Henry Huggins,” was published in 1950. Over 40 books followed, earning her a spot in every young reader's heart.