These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Leigh Botts is the main character in the novel and is the teller of his own story through a series of letters and diary entries, most of which are to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. When we meet Leigh he is a second-grader with questionable spelling and it not until he reaches sixth grade that we really get to know him properly. Leigh was a happy child whose only problem in life was the fact that the spelling of his name made people think he was a girl. His life changes when he is in fourth grade and he moves to a new town and a new school after his parents are divorced. Leigh is angry but not really old enough yet to understand that he is angry.
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Dear Mr. Henshaw is a juvenile epistolary novel by Beverly Cleary and illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky that was awarded the Newbery Medal in Every school year, Leigh Botts writes a letter to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw.
In the 6th grade, Leigh's class has an assignment to write letters to their favorite authors. Leigh includes all the questions he was given as a numbered list. Henshaw writes back, teases Leigh for not doing research, and includes more questions for the boy to answer. Leigh is angry and at first refuses to answer. When Leigh's mother finds out, she demands he show Mr. Henshaw the courtesy of a reply. Through his answers to Mr. Henshaw, Leigh's concerns and conflicts are revealed.
He struggles with his parents' divorce, being the new kid in school, his relationship with a neglectful father, and a school lunch thief. In a later letter, Mr. Henshaw encourages him to keep a diary of his thoughts and feelings. Leigh is reconciled to the writer, and his new diary is at first written to a Mr. Pretend Henshaw. Through writing this diary, Leigh learns to accept the parts of his life he cannot change.
He must deal with problems that many other children also have to cope with, such as feeling lonely because he is new in town and completing school assignments. His parents will never remarry, he can never fully depend on his father, and he must find adult ways to deal with "bad things," such as not finding the person who still steals his lunch. Leigh decides to write for the Young Writers club.
When he is unable to turn out a story or poem for a school writing contest, he writes a memory of when he and his father hauled grapes to a factory. This earns him an honorable mention in the school yearbook. When one of the contestants turns out to have cheated, Leigh earns his place for lunch with a famous author.
Even though the author is not Mr. Henshaw, she compliments Leigh's story. Cleary said she began the novel after "two little boys who didn't know one another asked me to write about a boy whose parents were divorced. And I had never thought about it, but I said I'd — give it a try. Kirkus Reviews said of the book, "All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic.
From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that make the Ramona books so rewarding. Its immediacy never becomes too intense; its humor never makes light of the seriousness of the theme.
A gem in , the year of its publication, it is still a gem as the years pass. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Henshaw First edition. American Library Association. Retrieved 6 August Retrieved August 19, Reading Rockets. Retrieved September 28, Kirkus Reviews. August 1, Retrieved January 18, In Kingman, Lee ed. Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books Boston : The Horn Book, Incorporated. Children and Young Adult Literature portal s portal. Works by Beverly Cleary.
First edition. William Morrow. Newbery Medal recipient
Dear Mr. Henshaw
I loved this book, and I also love the author. I wrote her a letter when I was 13, and she wrote back! I was so pleased to see you had read this. I've not seen it on any other blogs. I wrote about the book on the blog 8 years! I guess it might have helped him keep in touch with his dad, but what if his dad was just as unreliable about making phone calls. Plus kids these days measure their popularity by the number of their Facebook friends.
Dear Mr. Henshaw Character List
Dear Mr. Henshaw Summary
Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. Beverly Cleary is one of the most recognized children's authors of the twentieth century. Her characters and their stories have entertained children for decades and through different generations. Many of her books, including Dear Mr. She has also been recognized with many state and college awards. In , the Library of Congress named Cleary a 'living legend.