by Beverly Cleary

Other authorsPaul O. Zelinsky (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1983


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Call number

J Cl


Yearling (1984), Edition: A Dell Yearling Book, 134 pages


In his letters to his favorite author, ten-year-old Leigh reveals his problems in coping with his parents' divorce, being the new boy in school, and generally finding his own place in the world.

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User reviews

LibraryThing member RGQuimby
Realistic (but never gritty) this interesting coming-of-age story doesn't have a plot so much as a focus on Leigh's character development. Exploring themes of friendship, self-confidence, parental relationships, and the importance of creative expression, "Dear Mr. Henshaw" is another great book
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from an awesome author.
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LibraryThing member avcr
Leigh is lonely because his Dad is a trucker and away most of the time; his mother, since the divorce, works all day at Katy’s Catering to make rent and pay the bills. Leigh begins writing to Mr. Henshaw, the author of Ways to Amuse a Dog, his favorite book. He wants to be a writer, and though
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Mr. Henshaw is at first a be grumpy in his replies, I think he actually begins to give Leigh good advice, as he begins to see through Leigh’s perseverance in writing to him, that he is dedicated, talented, and in need of a friend.
If You Liked This, Try: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, Number the Starts by Lois Lowry, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.
Awards: Newbery
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LibraryThing member grouchiosa
I read this book a long time ago, when I was still in grade school. It was one of my favourite books, so I was deeply upset when a friend lost it. Over the years, I still thought of the book and the way it made me feel. Imagine how happy I was when I saw it at a local bookstore here in Kuala
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Lumpur, 15 years later, with the same cover of the version I used to own. This is one of those books that even adults can enjoy. Being sad and trying to cope with life is not exclusively for adults, even kids get those blues too.
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LibraryThing member Riley1878
I liked it but i don't know if it was Newbery Winner material. It was a good book for kids to see journaling and writing to authors. It was great that Leigh had a favorite author to inspire him. I guess it was a good book for the age group.
LibraryThing member landa69
This story is about a young boy named Leigh Botts. He reminds me of my son. The reason for this is because I am a divorced woman raising my son with the love of God and myself. My son does not write to his favorite author but he does write. He writes stories about his experiences from school and
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his every day life. My son is not lonely in school like this young man but sometimes he is sad. My son was sad about my divorce, like this young man, but he has flourished and is growing into a wonderful teenager. I can relate to this book and I may have my son read this book for some bibliotherapy.
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LibraryThing member Amber_88
This is a good example of realistic fiction because Leigh is a fictional character, but his experiences happen today to children. He struggles ranged from his lunch getting taken every day to his distant father losing his dog, all of which are events that children can relate to in their real lives.
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Leigh Botts is the protaganist and is a very round character. He grows a lot throughout the book, which spans several years. He is very real to the reader, who empathizes with him. His emotions go up and down, and he expresses his anger, frustration, and joy in his letter. Through these experiences, he becomes a round character.
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LibraryThing member mrsarey
Lee is a lonely little boy dealing with his parents' divorce. He begins a correspondence with his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. This letter writing helps Lee understand himself better.
LibraryThing member missmichelle
Age Appropriateness:Intermediate (3rd - 5th grade)
Genre: In this Realistic fiction Leigh describes his journey through some of the turmoil he faces with his dad and in school and learns he can grow from these situations. Through Leigh's letters to Mr. Henshaw the reader gets to experience what
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Leigh is going through in his daily life, making id feel like the events are actually happening. Leigh talks about the hardships that come along with his parents being divorced, which many children today can relate with.
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LibraryThing member stharp
This book is a great example of realistic fiction. The way that Beverly Clear depicts the struggles that Leigh Botts (boy) is struggling with his parents seperation and struggles with school. He writes to Mr. Henshaw, an author that he likes, and begins correspondence with the author through
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letters. The point of view that the author chose to write in was truly a stroke of genius. It made the story all the more readable and enjoyable.
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LibraryThing member lleighton05
Genre: This story is very realistic because the boy experiences real struggles and issues that occur in life. For example, he has divorced parents, he hates writing, and a dad he never sees because he drives a truck. The author uses the problems so the readers can relate to the problems
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in their own lives. This story could easily occur in real life, however, it is fictional.
Character: Leigh Botts is the round character in the book. He is dynamic because not only does he get older, but he also matures, becomes a better writer, and begins to have a different attitude about life. The reader learns most about him through his diary. We learn about his thoughts, feelings, hopes, wishes, and disappointments.
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LibraryThing member smyers
This story is about a 10 year old boy, "Leigh" who is coping with the recent divorce of his parents. Leigh is a new student in his school who finds portions of his lunch missing daily. Through the story you learn about Leigh and his misfortunes and dreams through his letter writing to his favorite
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author. The author not only gives Leigh writing advice he also provides a sense of direction indirectly for the child.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book which is told through the eyes of the 10 year old boy. I was able to sense how he felt as a new student trying to fit in, a child in a recently divorced family and an only child (boy), living with his mother. I feel this book works through these situations on an appropriate level for any young child to associate with. I love Beverly Cleary and will add this to my library.
As a classroom extension, this book would be an excellent feeder for how it is to be the new child in a class. The book could be read by the teacher and feed back given from the students throughout the story. This book can also give the students ideas as to becoming an author and how to get started with writing. Each student could do like Leigh and start a journal. The journal is a safe place for a child to divulge feelings and emotions they may not feel comfortable telling anyone.
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LibraryThing member ENeal
Dear Mr. Henshaw is about a boy named Leigh who writes to his favorite author. He tells Mr. Henshaw about his struggles and his thoughts and feelings. Mr. Henshaw writes back to Leigh and tries to put him on the right career path. He tells Leigh that if he wants to be an author then he need to
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write. Leigh’s parents just got a divorce and he never really sees his father. His mom works with a catere who always puts unique but very delicious food in his lunch. Leigh does not get to eat it though because someone takes it.

This is a very good book. While I was reading it, it felt like I was actually the one who was writing the letters. The story line is very realistic and is relatable with a lot of people. It had real feelings and how Leigh dealt with it.

I would use this in the classroom by using it as an English assignment. There are a few different style of letters in this book. I would make assignments by using lines in the book (after we read it) and make changes to put errors in the sentences and the students would need to correct it. I might even have the students pick there favorite author and start writing letters to them.
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LibraryThing member SHARONTHEIL
Dear Mr. Henshaw is written as the first-person account of nine-year-old Leigh Botts as he struggles to rebuild his life after it is shattered by his parents’ divorce. Over a period of several years, Leigh writes to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. These letters enable him to come to terms with
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his parents’ separation, and he begins to form an independent identity and find his place in the world.
This book is a departure for its author, Beverly Cleary, who is best known for her wildly popular Ramona Quimby books. She is famous for books that feature real children in real-life situations, and most of her child protagonists are extroverts whose conflicts with authority lead them into amusing situations. This book's child protagonist never would be mistaken for the irrepressible Ramona the Pest. Leigh Botts longs to fit into the world, not to rebel against it. In Dear Mr. Henshaw, the conflict is internal, the action less than earth-shattering, and the resolution psychological.
This is a quiet story of an ordinary boy dealing with ordinary life and ordinary problems in contemporary society. What makes this book a Newbery Medal winner is the honesty that Beverly Cleary has employed to create a story that rings true. The realism of her depiction allows readers to identify with Leigh's sadness and disappointments and, eventually, with his maturity and hope.
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LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This is the tale of Leigh Botts, a school aged boy and wannabe writer, as told in a series of letters to Boyd Henshaw, the author of Leigh's favorite book. It's an interesting twist and Ms. Cleary makes it work well. It was a pleasure to read, though I didn't find the heart of the story, Leigh
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coping with his parents' divorce, to be exceptionally enthralling.
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LibraryThing member elizacats
It won the Notable Children's Books and the Newbery Medal Award
LibraryThing member GoodGeniusLibrary
A sixth-grade boy deals with his parents' divorce, feelings for his negligent and absent father, losing his dog, moving to a new school, and having the best part of his lunch stolen most days. The story is told through the boy's letters to a famous children's author, Mr. Henshaw, and through his
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journal. Writing helps the boy explore his feelings. This is an excellent book for young writers, children trying to resolve problems, children dealing with divorce or a new school. Well written; another Cleary classic.
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LibraryThing member MarthaSohl
Leigh Botts is a young boy who wrote his first letter to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw, when he was in second grade. The story is made up of letters Leigh wrote to Mr. Henshaw or in his diary mostly while in the sixth grade. Leigh's parents have divorced and Leigh is struggling to become an
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author. Some of his letters are quite angry and some are seeking out help from Mr. Henshaw. The emotions of a young boy going through a lot of changes and learning ways to work through problems are clearly apparent.

I felt sympathy for Leigh because he was dealing with quilt and hurt from his parents divorce. He was also trying to become a good writer. He was trying to find a good balance in his life.

Good classroom extensions would be in helping children work through dealing with the divorce of their parents. Leigh was also growing up and trying to replace a now absent father figure. He was struggling to become more independent. The emotions were sometimes overwhelming.
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LibraryThing member lauraklandoll
This tells the story of a young boy, who is experiencing, divorce, moving to a new home, town, and school. He writes to an author because he has to for a school assignment. The author writes back several times and encourages him to start a diary, the boy becomes more interested in writing because
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of this. We learn about the boy, his family, and his school. He pours out his feelings in his diary, which helps him to cope with his life situation.

To be honest, I thought this book would be very boring, and the first few pages lived up to this prediction. How surprised I was when it became more and more interesting. Ms. Cleary was very skilled at drawing me into the story.

What a great book to use for raising interest in diary, and letter writing. This book would certainly help children struggling with divorce in their families.
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LibraryThing member kwangme81
A young boy named Leigh Botts writes letters to his favorite author Mr. Henshaw. He later starts a diary of his own because Mr. Henshaw tells him it's a good way to start writing because Leigh wants to be an author too.
I was surprised this book was all letters. I thought the letters would be in the
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book but I didn't know the whole book was letters. It was interesting way to tell a story and it really did tell a good story.
Children could write letters to someone, like the librarian or if they could, maybe to their favorite author too. They could also keep a diary during the school year. And like in the book, the classroom could write their own stories and compile it into one big book.
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LibraryThing member krissa
I liked this book, for what it was, and I can totally see why it won the Newbery. It was a cute, fun, fast read that actually made me laugh out loud a few times. I am impressed how Cleary chose to change formats in the book from a letter, to more of a diary style. It would have been so easy to
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stick with one format through out, but I like the way it showed growth for the character. The black and white illustrations were wonderful, and I was sucked in from the beginning by the characters voice. If I was an 8 year old boy, I would be hooked. =D
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LibraryThing member AnissaAndrews
Beverly Cleary tells the story of Lea Botts as he deals with his parents' divorce, his fathers absence, and a lunch theif. Encouraged by his favorite author, Lea learns to work through his troubles through journaling.
LibraryThing member Sclarke23
This intriging book is about a boy, Leigh Botts, writing his favorite author. As you read along its obvious of his growth in langauge art and letter writting. I think because I've read this book already that i'm a little biased, but it is indeed a great book. The assignment that will create for
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this book would be that each student to write one of there favorite author.
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LibraryThing member bplma
12 year old Leigh has been writing to Mr. Henshaw off and on since a school assignment in 2nd grade mandated he contact a published author. Now in 6th grade, Leigh begins writing in earnest--ostensibly for another school project-- revealing the unhappy details of his life. It is Mr Henshaw's brief,
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but thoughtful, response that leads Leigh to start keeping a letter-journal and it is through these letters--some sent (Dear Real Mr. Henshaw) and some journaled (Dear Fake Mr. Henshaw) that we learn about his struggle with his parents recent divorce and separation, the move to a new house, a new school, his loneliness, and the unreliable father that he loves and misses. As in real life, things improve for Leigh by the end of the book--he meets a new friend and comes to terms with the new living situation but, just as important, there is no happily ever after and his parents do not get back together----instead, they all move on.
Well written and brilliant--this is a great book for individual reading and for book club and class room discussions. The issues of divorce and unhappiness and alienation are very common in YA books, but much less so for this age level--when many children are aware of family issues but do not know how to talk about them, leaving them full of fear and anxiety. Thoughtful and moving, Dear Mr. Henshaw is popular and well received by children and adults and serves as a great introduction to the works of Beverly Cleary. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member lmeek04
This book would provide an excellent example for children about how to make journal entried and write letters to important people. Children reading or listening to this story would hear the appropriate way to write and what good writing sounds like when read out loud. This book is an excellent
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model in that way, and the writing children are reading tells a full story by the end of the book!
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LibraryThing member njhollis
It is written in first person by a nine year old boy named Leigh Botts. He writes letters to his favorite author as a way to cope with his parents divorce. It chronicles the life of Leigh through sadness and disappointment while dealing with ordinary problems.


Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 1986)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1986)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — 1985)
Newbery Medal (Medal Winner — 1984)
Nēnē Award (Nominee — 1989)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — 1986)
Flicker Tale Award (Nominee — 1987)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

134 p.; 5.25 inches


0440417945 / 9780440417941


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