We are getting so close to the start of school around here. And we are ready! We could use a little schedule and routine to our days. Also better bedtimes and consistent wake up times.
Today I am here with an apt review of Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary — winner of the 1984 Newbery Medal. This epistolary novel shares the letters of Leigh to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. I really enjoyed this novel.
- Quick read and fun pictures. It was easy to get invested in the story and I finished it in just a few sittings.
- I think of Beverly Cleary as the author of the Romana books and Mouse with a Motorcycle — light books for kids. But this was a surprisingly deep book!
According to Goodreads, “Leigh has been Boyd Henshaw’s number one fan ever since he was in second grade. Now in sixth grade, Leigh lives with his mother and is the new kid in school. He’s lonely, troubled by the absence of his father, a cross-country trucker, and angry because a mysterious thief steals from his lunchbag. Then Leigh’s teacher assigns a letter-writing project. Naturally Leigh chooses to write to Mr. Henshaw, whose surprising answer changes Leigh’s life.”
I recently bought this Newbery winner at a second hand bookstore and enjoying this award winning story. I hadn’t realized Beverly Cleary wrote it! So fun to be in one of her stories again.
I love the epistolary style and this was a fun way to tell this story. We get inside Leigh’s head through his letters and journal entries. I enjoyed how Leigh goes back and forth between his real letters to Mr Henshaw and his journal letters. It would have been fun to read a few letters from Mr Henshaw as well. We do get to see his postcards and hear what he said through Leigh. But reading his words from him would have been fun. I do enjoy their relationship and how it shapes Leigh as the story progresses.
I enjoyed Leigh as the narrator a lot and was impressed by how he tackles big themes. Leigh is a funny, fan boy, but also experiencing hard things like parents divorce and going to a new school. I enjoyed reading about his ingenuity in creating the burglar alarm on him lunchbox and his determination to be a famous author. I was surprised by the open discussion of Leigh’s disappointing relationship with his father and his parents divorce. He is very observant and open about his experiences and his disappointments. I think this is a great book to read with kids that are unfortunately experiencing similar changes in their families.
I love that Mr Henshaw responds to Leigh’s letters throughout the book. The postcards are great and I just kept thinking how fun to have an author as a pen pal! Great advice on following your dreams and working hard. Also appreciated the advice that practice makes perfect and write about what you know and experience first.
A fun Newbery winner!
Which epistolary novels have you enjoyed?