Beverly Cleary was born on April 12, 1916. Her family lived on a small farm in McMinnville, Oregon, before moving to Portland. Ironically, this internationally known author of children's books struggled to learn how to read when she entered school. Before long however Cleary had learned to love books, and as a child she spent a good deal of her time in the public library.
Cleary earned her first B.A. in 1938 from the University of California at Berkeley. Her second degree, a B.A. in library science, was bestowed by the University of Washington in Seattle in 1939. She worked for a short time as Children's Librarian in Yakima, Washington, before moving to California.
Cleary began her writing career in her early thirties. Her stories and especially her characters, Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby, have proven popular with young readers. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages and are available in over twenty countries. Some of her best known titles are Ellen Tebbits (1951), Henry and the Paper Route (1957), Runaway Ralph (1970), and Dear Mr. Henshaw (1983). Several television programs have been produced from the Henry Huggins and Ramona stories.
Cleary has won many awards for her contributions to children's literature, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1975, the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal in 1980 and the John Newbery Medal in 1984.
(Bowker Author Biography)
Socks Chapter One The Kitten Sale The tabby kitten hooked his white paws over the edge of the box marked, Kittens 25¢ or Best Offer . The girl with the stringy hair and sunburnedarms picked him up and set him down in the midst of his wiggling, crawling, mewing brothers and sisters. He wanted to get out; she wanted him to stay in. The puzzling struggle had gone on all morning in the space between the mailbox and the newspaper rack near the door of the supermarket. "Nice fresh kittens for sale," called out the girl, whose name was Debbie. She usually held the kitten in her arms, and he expected her to hold him now. "Stupid," said her brother George, embarrassed to be selling kittens with his younger sister on a summer morning. "Whoever heard of fresh kittens?" "Me," said Debbie, as she pushed the kitten down once more. Then she repeated at the top of her voice, "Nice fresh kittens for sale." She knew she was not stupid, and she enjoyed annoying her brother. The two had quarreled at breakfast. George said Debbie should sell the kittens, because she played with them and that made them hers. Debbie said George should sell the kittens, because she didn't know how to make change. Besides, he was the one who had brought the mother home when she was a kitten, so that made her kittens his. Their father said, "Stop bickering, you two. You can both sell them," and that was that. The white-pawed kitten, unaware of the hard feelings between brother and sister, tried again. He stepped on another kitten and this time managed to lift his chin over the rim of the carton. His surprised blue eyes took in a paking lot full of shoppers pushing grocery carts among cars glittering in the summer heat. He was fascinated and frightened. "Now Socks," said Debbie, as she unhooked his claws from the cardboard, "be a good kitten." Socks's orange-and-white sister caught his tail and bit it. Socks rolled over on his back and swiped at her with one white paw. He no longer felt playful toward a littermate who bit his tail. Now that be was seven weeks old, he wanted to escape from all the rolling, pouncing, and nipping that went on inside the box. Unfortunately, no shopper was willing to buy Socks his freedom. Several paused to smile at the sign, and then Socks found himself shoved to the bottom of the heap by Debbie. "What are you going to do with all the money when you sell the kittens?" asked an elderly woman who was lonely for her grandchildren. "Daddy says we should save up to have the mother cat shoveled, so she won't have kittens all the time," answered Debbie. "Spayed," corrected George. "She means he said we should have the mother spayed." "Oh, my," said the woman and hurried into the market. "Stupid," said George. "Anyway, Dad was joking, I think." This time Debbie looked as if she agreed with her brother that she might be stupid. "What are we going to do?" she asked, as she plucked Socks from the edge of the carton once more. "Nobody wants them." "Mark them down, I guess. Dad said to give them away if we had to. The boy borrowed a felt-tipped pen from a checker in the market and, while Socks peered over the edge of the carton, crossed out the 25¢ on his sign and wrote 20¢ above it. "Kittens for sale." Debbie's voice sounded encouraging as she hid Socks under two of his littermates. He promptly wiggled out. On a day like this his own fur was warm enough. "Why do you keep hiding Socks?" George tried to look as if he just happened to be standing there by the mailbox and had nothing to do with the kittens. "Because he's the best kitten, and I want to keep him," said Debbie. "Dad won't let you," her brother reminded her. "He says the house is getting to smell like cats." Socks found himself plucked from the litter and cradled in the girl's arms. "Well, at least we can find a good home for him." Debbie was admitting the truth of her brother's statement. I don't want just anybody to take Socks." "You don't see a line of people forming to buy kittens, do you?" asked George. To pass the time he had read the headlines of the newspapers in the rack and the label on the mailbox and was starting in on the signs posted in the windows of the market. Socks tried to climb Debbie's T-shirt, but she held him back while she watched the faces of shoppers for signs of interest. Once a man approached, but he only wanted to drop a letter in the mailbox. A woman paused long enough to look at each kitten and then say, "No, I can't bear to think of anything as warm and furry as a kitten on such a hot day." Children entering the market with their parents begged to be allowed to buy a kitten, just one, please, please , with their very own money, but no one actually bought a kitten. I guess it just isn't kitten weather," said Debbie. Socks struggled to free himself from the heat of the girl's sweaty arms. "Be good, Socks," said Debbie. "We're trying to find you a nice home." "Fat chance." George had finished reading the signs in the window and was even more bored. Special prices on ground beef and soap and announcements of cake sales did not interest him. A woman with her hair on rollers, wearing a muumuu and rubber-thong sandals, herded three children and a tired-looking mongrel across the parking lot. The tallest, a girl barely old enough to read, shriekedMommy, look! A kitten sale!" I Socks . Copyright © by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.