Before the world guffawed at Portlandia, generations were charmed and inspired by Beverly Cleary's stories. As children, we raptly read the adventures of Ramona, Beezus, Henry, Ribsy, Ellen, and Austine as they grew up in a then-working class Portland neighborhood in the 1950s—the same one where Beverly Cleary spent ages 6 through 18 in the 1920s and 1930s.
Now, longtime Portland guidebook writer Laura O. Foster brings that history alive, leading you through a walk down the Klickitat Street that was, and in many ways, still is.
Walking with Ramona unlocks a fascinating chapter of Portland's history, and introduces you to the sights, sounds, smells, games, and social fabric of mid-century Portland. Like the Ramona books themselves, this tour and the history around it can be enjoyed by all ages and generations.
Why this book?
Several years ago, Portland guidebook writer Laura O. Foster was asked by the Multnomah County Library to develop and lead a series of walking tours which she called "Walking with Ramona." These tours were so popular (with as many as 200 people showing up for them!) that Laura decided to write a book so that anyone can discover Beverly Cleary's Portland for themselves. The book is intended as a practical guidebook for both locals and visitors, even those who aren't able to physically visit Portland.
Here are some nice things people are saying about Walking with Ramona:
"I don’t like to brag, but I can hum and whistle at the same time. Also, I've lived near Beverly Cleary’s childhood home for many years. And yet even I found Laura O. Foster’s Walking with Ramona to be hugely impressive, absolutely enriching, and downright inspiring. Kudos to Laura for writing a book that would make Ramona proud!" —Bart King, The Big Book of Boy Stuff, The Big Book of Girl Stuff, and An Architectural Guidebook to Portland
"Ramona would be amazed by this book! I love seeing where she lived and learned." —Ginnie Cooper, former Multnomah County Librarian and resident of Klickitat Street
Of course, first and foremost, there's the book itself!
Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary's Portland is Laura O. Foster's lovingly detailed history and guide to the sidewalks, houses, schools, and neighborhood that Mrs. Cleary lived, learned, played, and later wrote about.
The book's 128 pages are packed with history, delightful facts, and photos taken along the route. At 5 and a half by 7 inches, it's small enough to slip into a purse or pocket while you stroll along looking for sidewalk horse rings or plan your walk over breakfast at a Hollywood eatery.
Once you've walked (or biked) along the 3.2 mile route, turn to the rest of the book to find places to eat, drink, and shop in the neighborhood, learn more about the neighborhood and Mrs. Cleary's history, and explore other places around Portland and Oregon where Beverly and her family lived, spent time, or visited.
Far more than just a guidebook, Walking with Ramona paints a fascinating picture of a young girl’s life in Depression-era Portland, and it also takes the reader further afield, beyond Portland to discover other places from Beverly Cleary’s life, along with their stories. Close to the tour route, you can visit one of the city’s last drugstore soda fountains, take in a movie at the theater where Beverly watched silent movies, and shop for antiques in a classic mid-century department store. Farther away, you can visit the Pudding River, where Beverly and her best friend Claudine would spend time in the summer, or Beverly's first home, a farmhouse in Yamhill, Oregon.
More Microcosm Travel Books
We're experienced at publishing cute little guide books and travel stories. In various rewards, we offer a selection of travel books that we think you'll like particularly.
- Zinester's Guide to Portland — This is the #1 bestselling guide to Portland currently in print, by anyone. And we publish it! We kinda can't believe it either. This is the brand new, hot off the press, zillionth edition.
- This is Portland — More of a sociological than logistical guide book, Alexander Barrett's illustrated gem will help you navigate Portland's street pronunciations, breweries, beards, bicycle culture, and icons like the unipiper.
- Zinester's Guide to New York City — Ayun Halliday's chatty guide is the ideal NYC guide for low-budget travelers, creative types, and adventure seekers on a very small or no budget.
- This is Shanghai — The creator of This is Portland introduces you to the wonders and details of the most populous city in the world.
- Dream Whip 15 — A bicycle powered travelogue by Bill Brown, who made a documentary about the US-Mexico border and took it on a screening tour, by bike, across the US Midwest.
Other Guidebooks by Laura O. Foster
Laura has written a number of wonderful guides; we're still confirming details about which ones will be included in these reward levels, and we'll update you here as soon as we sort it out! These books could include The Portland Stairs Book, Portland Hill Walks, or Portland City Walks.
Gorgeous Oregon and a special reward
When we first proposed this project to author Laura O. Foster, she let us know that she is also Kickstarting another guidebook—Columbia Gorge Getaways will be the first comprehensive guide to visiting what is arguably one of the most beautiful destinations in Oregon or perhaps the country (and with the best food and wine, we might add!). Laura kindly agreed to let the two projects overlap, and to provide a special reward for backers who support both—which we strongly encourage you to do through the end of the Gorge project on March 4th!
Anyone who backs both Walking with Ramona and Columbia Gorge Getaways will receive an invitation to a unique, one-time-only walking tour around one of Laura's favorite parts of Portland. Details to be determined! Back Laura's Gorge guide book here! See you on the sidewalk!
Note: To get invited to this walk, all you need to do is back both projects—and choose any reward level. We'll compare our lists of backers at the end, and email everyone who's a match with details!
Happy birthday, Mrs. Cleary!
Beverly Cleary lives in California, and this April 12th, 2016 is her 100th birthday! (The day is perhaps better known as "Drop Everything And Read" or "D.E.A.R." Day, after a fictional school program Ramona participates in.)
We would love to be able to publish this book early in time for Mrs. Cleary's birthday. So we're announcing a stretch goal right off the bat: If this project raises $10,000 (or if we can sell over 1,000 copies), then we'll drop everything and go to print early.
About the Author
Laura O. Foster writes about Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Her books take readers on explorations of a city or region’s geology, architecture, neighborhoods, parklands, and human and natural history.
For several years, Laura has occasionally led her "Walking with Ramona" tour for public school field trips and most recently for OPB’s Oregon Art Beat when it celebrated Mrs. Cleary’s 100th birthday in April 2016. This book is a much expanded version of that tour, meant to make it accessible to everybody.
In the 1990s, Laura lived in Beverly Cleary's neighborhood, on Northeast 48th Avenue in a 1909 Craftsman bungalow. She walked her dog to Grant Park most days with her two daughters. There, where Beverly, Henry, Beezus and Ramona played, the girls climbed trees, swung on the swings, and swam in the Grant Pool. Today Laura lives in Northwest Portland’s Skyline neighborhood.
Thanks for being excited about Walking with Ramona. Here are some photos of sights you'll see along the route, and a few glimpses of Portland 100 years ago that you can enjoy in your imagination as you read and explore.
Risks and challenges
We've been publishing books for over 20 years and running successful Kickstarter projects for over 5. We've learned (sometimes the hard way!) to avoid the usual Ramona-esque pitfalls and misadventures. This project is especially low-risk, since the book is already written, edited, designed, and ready to go. It's unlikely that we'll get laundry bluing all over everything or find that someone's taken a bite out of every apple in our bushel, though it's impossible to rule anything out. We can't wait to share it with you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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