Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Genre: Preteen fiction
Publication Date: 1983 by Avon Books
Recommended Age Group: 10 and over
Summary: The Newbery Winning story of Leigh Botts through letters and a journal. The book starts with a piece of fan mail to Leigh’s new favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. They read one of his books in class and Leigh decided to write him. As the book progresses so do the letters. We see Leigh grow up and things around him change. He is quite persistent in writing and eventually Mr. Henshaw writes Leigh back. Leigh’s letters become so prolific that Mr. Henshaw suggests that he write a journal instead. Though all this writing Leigh decides that he likes it and wants to be a writer. He enters and contest and doesn’t win but get an Honorable Mention. Leigh is excited by this and devotes more time to his writing. Meanwhile his family life is changed, his parents divorced and his Dad moved out Leigh has to deal with this and all the other uncertainties of a growing boy.
Personal Notes: Beautifully written. Cleary captures the essence of a young boy so well that the reader seems to be engulfed in actual letters. She also makes Leigh quite a round character with many problems that children today can relate to. I was a little disappointed by the ending. The parents had a chance to make up and get back together but Leigh’s mother chose not too. I guess it is more of the realistic that I appreciate through the rest of the novel and yet sometimes it’s nice to have an all-around happy ending.