Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary is an epistolary novel that follows one side of a penpal relationship between Leigh Botts and Mr. Boyd Henshaw. Leigh is a sixth grader, and he is Mr. Henshaw’s number one fan. Mr. Henshaw is an author. Leigh enjoys Mr. Henshaw’s books and decides to write to him. At first he writes letters for school assignments, but then he writes other letters to Mr. Henshaw.
Mr. Henshaw encourages Leigh to become a writer and gives him some advice. Leigh enters a young writer’s competition where the award is to meet a Famous Author hoping that the author will be Mr. Henshaw. He also is having some trouble in other parts of his life. Mr. Henshaw encourages Leigh to start a journal. The letters then diverge with some to the real Mr. Henshaw and some to the pretend Mr. Henshaw in Leigh’s journal.
Leigh faces some other challenges as well. His mother and father have recently divorced, and Leigh and his mother have moved to a small cottage in a new town. His father is a cross-country trucker, and Leigh never sees him. Leigh is also dealing with a lunch bag thief. Someone keeps stealing things from Leigh’s lunch bag.
Dear Mr. Henshaw is a Newbery award winner and an ALA Notable Book. It is an excellent example of character development, and it gives young readers exposure to a new form of literature. It was always one of my favorite books when I was younger, and now I remember why.
I am off to read and write a bit before I have to go to work. Until next time, Happy Reading!