families visited the real-world settings that inspired fictional children’s
stories. Follow their itineraries to take your own book-based tour. –
THE BOOKS: Beverly Cleary’s novels
THE FAMILY: Shannon Riggs and kids Sabrina, 12, and Jake, 10
THE TOUR: Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood is the fictional
home of Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins, and it was the real home of their
creator, who grew up there in the 1920s and ’30s. First stop on our Cleary quest
is Grant Park, site of the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden. There’s a small,
shaded playground, but we’re there for the bronze statues of Ramona, Henry and
faithful pup Ribsy. In warm weather, fountains invite children to play in the
water at the statues’ feet. We have fun posing with the characters we’ve come to
love in novels such as “Ramona the Pest” and “Henry Huggins.” Next, we head to
the Hollywood Library to see its architectural centerpiece,
stone map pinpointing some neighborhood spots mentioned in Cleary’s books. The
map inspires us to walk along Klickitat Street, home address of the Quimby and
Huggins families. Craftsman-style houses and tree-lined blocks make it easy to
imagine Ramona; her big sister, Beezus; and Henry riding their bikes or taking
Ribsy for a walk. Sabrina recalls Ramona “boinging” her classmate Susan’s
ringlets, while Jake has a sloppier memory: “It was so funny when Ramona’s mom
packed a raw egg for lunch and Ramona cracked it on her own head!”
INSIDE TIP: The Hollywood Library has a Cleary handbook full
of Ramona word games and trivia quizzes.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Visit Powell’s City of Books; you’ll
find Cleary’s novels and a million other volumes.
BETH GAUPER/MCT Horse-drawn wagons carry children around the pageant grounds of De Smet, S.D., one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood homes, made famous in her “Little House” series of books.
THE BOOK: “Misty of Chincoteague,” by Marguerite Henry
THE FAMILY: Kerry Day and daughter Carmen, 7
THE TOUR: This 1947 novel, long a favorite of horsecrazed
kids like Carmen, takes place on the windswept barrier islands just off the
eastern shore of Virginia. Each July, we cross the causeways to experience the
rugged, untouched beauty of this area and to catch the yearly pony roundup that
Henry describes so memorably (the 82nd Annual Pony
is July 25 to 27). Driven by local saltwater cowboys,” the ponies make the short
swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island while onlookers stand in
Chincoteague’s marshes to cheer their arrival. The ponies are herded through
town to a corral at the Carnival Grounds, where they’re examined by
veterinarians. The next day, some ponies are sold at auction, which both
provides revenue for the volunteer fire company (which owns the ponies) and
keeps the herd at a healthy, manageable size. The remaining ponies then swim
back to Assateague.
INSIDE TIP: To be close to the action, stay at the
budget-friendly campgrounds at Tom’s Cove Park.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Stick around after the pony penning for
the community dinner and the firemen’s carnival.
SMET, SOUTH DAKOTA
THE BOOKS: The “Little House” series, by Laura Ingalls
THE FAMILY: Sandra Hume and kids Sky, 4, and Wilder, 2
THE TOUR: De Smet is the real-life setting for five of Laura
Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, and just outside town is Ingalls
Homestead, where Charles “Pa” Ingalls staked his claim in the 1880s.
We stop first at Ma’s Little House, a to-scale replica of the Ingalls home,
where Sky washes clothes on a washboard, just as Laura and Mary did. After
touring the site, we catch a covered-wagon ride through a half-mile of
prairie grasses to the one-room schoolhouse. Sky dons a pinafore and
sunbonnet, and Wilder, a straw hat, to try a 19th-century lesson. Then each
“pupil” tugs a rope to ring the school’s bell.
INSIDE TIP: Catch the outdoor Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant
(this year, weekends from July 6 to 22; $7 for adults, $4 for kids), where the
characters come to life as the sun sets over the prairie.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE:Walnut Grove, Minn., setting for Wilder’s
“On the Banks of Plum Creek,” is an easy two-hour drive to the east. Its Laura
Ingalls Wilder Museum is worth a visit too.
TO LEARN MOREPortland: Beverly Cleary
Sculpture Garden: 503-823- 2223; Hollywood Library: 503-988-5391, multcolib.org;
Powell’s City of Books: 800-878-7323, powells.comChincoteague: Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce: 757-336-6161, chincoteaguechamber.com; Tom’s Cove Park: Campsites are $30 to $42 per night;
757-336-6498, tomscovepark.comDe Smet: Ingalls Homestead: $7
for age 5 and up; 800-776-3594, ingallshomestead.com; Laura Ingalls Wilder
Museum at Walnut Grove, Minn.: 888-528-7298, walnutgrove.org