Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir, Beverly Cleary, the well-known author of children’s fiction, relates her memories of growing up in Oregon, her own childhood providing as engrossing a subject as that of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, or any of her other well-loved characters. The memoir is divided into two parts, each further divided into chapters that chronologically detail the events that shaped the author’s youth. Enhancing the richly detailed text are thirty photographs of Cleary and of her family, friends, and surroundings.

The first and shorter of the two sections, entitled “Yamhill,” describes Cleary’s first six years on the family farm outside the small Oregon town of Yamhill and recalls the adventures and exploits of her pioneer ancestors, who were among Ore-gon’s most prominent historical figures. Cleary recounts her early years when family and home represented the universe, the memories surfacing as a series of vivid images rather than as a recalled sequence of events. Cleary describes her first memories of her parents: her father, Chester Lloyd Bunn, “tall and handsome in work clothes, astride a chestnut horse,” and her mother, Mable Atlee Bunn, hard at work on her most hated chore—washing and scalding the cream separator—and reciting lines from Dickens and Chaucer. She describes the shock of finding a tree in the parlor (her first Christmas memory) and the day that all the bells in Yamhill were rung...

(The entire section is 503 words.)