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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching "coming of age" story
Dear Mr. Henshaw is a touching story, kind of a "coming-of-age" tale for an elementary school child. But instead of seeing this tale through a typical narrative, we see this character's growth through letters that he writes to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw.

Cleary does a wonderful job demonstrating that growth, through decisions he makes and, most...
Published on January 23, 2005 by Jonathan Appleseed

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NEW KID AT SCHOOL BLUES
Elementary student Leigh Botts adores a book about dog training by Mr. Boyd Henshaw; he writes to the author at irregular intervals over the years, steadily improving his spelling, grammar and world view. At first he resents the flippant replies from his literary idol, but gradually he answers Henshaw's questions --designed to promote the boy's putting pencil to...
Published on June 19, 1998


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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching "coming of age" story, January 23, 2005
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
Dear Mr. Henshaw is a touching story, kind of a "coming-of-age" tale for an elementary school child. But instead of seeing this tale through a typical narrative, we see this character's growth through letters that he writes to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw.

Cleary does a wonderful job demonstrating that growth, through decisions he makes and, most impressively, small, barely perceptible improvements in his writing.

I was quite surprised when Leigh expressed anger first at Mr. Henshaw for being late in answering the ten questions he sent him, and second for Mr. Henshaw asking Leigh to answer ten questions about himself. Leigh went from "Your friend", "Your Best Reader", to "Your Disgusted Reader".

One of the things that Mr. Henshaw suggested was that Leigh keep a journal. Leigh did so, and that's where we see the most tremendous growth of his character, as he talks about his feelings about his mom, his dad, and himself.

It's a wonderful book for kids, but also a terrific read for adults. Beverly Cleary never disappoints.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Henshaw, February 4, 2002
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
Leigh Botts was the only one in the class who still writes to his author that was suposed to be a one time deal. leigh writes to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. He gives him some tips on writing and ispires him to keep on writing. Leigh makes an alarm to solve the mystery of who was stealing part of his lunch. He gets an honorable mention in a writing contest and gets called an "author" by a real author. His mom and dad are divorced, and he lives with his mom; so he gets mad when his dad doesn't call or write. The rest is up to you to read! Dear Mr. Henshaw is recommended to people who like to read about authors, enjoy realistic fiction and like inspiring stories.
This book appeals to young people in grades 5 through 8, since Leigh is in the 6th grade. He goes through some of the things the people in this age group goes through. For instance, Leigh has a single mom and his dad is a cross-country truck driver. Also, he has to make new friends, and he discovers things about himself.
The story was written through letters to Mr. Henshaw, and later, Liegh wrote in his journal, writing to Mr. Henshaw on occasion. Liegh headed his letters "Dear Mr. Henshaw". He headed his journal entries,though,"Dear Mr. Pretend Henshaw".
The emotion in this story is mostly frusteration,like when Leigh doesn't like the fact that his dad doesn't call or write. He is also frusterated when he has to answer questions that Mr. Henshaw gives him.
Dear Mr. Henshaw is an excellant book that is good for an early-yeared teen who enjoys a book with emotion and likes reading about readers.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Henshaw Book Review, January 25, 2007
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
Leigh Botts is a Boyd Henshaw fan since he was in second grade. Boyd Henshaw is a famous author who Leigh writes letters to almost every week. Leigh lives in his trailer with his mom who barely makes any money. Leigh is a super lonely kid and has no friends till a tiny miracle happens to his lunchbox. Leigh's dad drives a truck all day and Leigh is troubled by his father's absence. Leigh will finally learn to not always trust his dad. I recommend this book to ages 8 and up. I loved this book and hope you love it too.

~Cadid
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Young Student Copes With Life By Writing Fan Letters, January 18, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
"Dear Mr. Henshaw" is mostly a collection of letters a young boy, Leigh Botts, sends to his favorite author, Mr. Boyd Henshaw, over a four-year period. By the 6th grade, Leigh is a regular fan. In his letters, Leigh describes his confusion at home over his parent's divorce and being friendless and picked on at his new school. After receiving some tips about writing from Mr. Henshaw, Leigh soon begins his own diary and learns how cathartic writing can be for him. He even wins a writing contest and meets "a real live author" who congratulates him and encourages him to keep writing.
It's no wonder "Dear Mr. Henshaw" won the Newbery Award in 1984. Although an entire book devoted to fan letters and diary entries might not excite some younger readers, Mrs. Cleary somehow makes this book very appealing and relative to children. There are also several illustrations done by Paul O. Zelinksy for those who enjoy drawings and not just writing. I remember reading "Dear Mr. Henshaw" when I was a kid and would highly recommend it to other children around seven and up.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Henshaw, November 26, 2002
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
A classic story that many children in today's society can really relate to with the rising divorce rate. Leigh speaks on their level, simply looking for some one to reach out to.
Dear Mr. Henshaw is a great book for kids that are having troubles with their life, like everyday children. Reading this book as an adult I associated it with my personal life. Leigh has problems with his parent's divorce, he hates not being able to see his dad. This leads him to a lot of emotional stress. Through this mess one of his teachers makes him write a letter to his favorite author. Leigh writes Mr. Henshaw a letter that asks him all sorts of questions about himself. After this the two of them write back and forth for a couple of years. This relationship gives Leigh confidence in himself when Mr. Henshaw tells Leigh that he should keep a journal. This journal allows Leigh to get his feelings out. Things stop bothering Leigh so much and by the end of the book he starts to enjoy his life more. This book is really good for an upper elementary child, and can even for an adult. Simplistic artwork for the cover, which demonstrates that this story is about an average boy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Henshaw, March 8, 2000
By 
Scott Laur (Kalamazoo, Michigan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
All children look for role models and people to idolize when they are growing up. The same is true for Leigh Botts, who is trying to adjust to a new life without his father from a recent divorce. As he attempts to reach out, he found a confidante to help guide him as he pursues a path similar to his role model in writing. He never loses sight of his family as he tries to hold his broken family together as a unit that he came to embrace dearly. I enjoyed reading through this book as the letter format of each "chapter" would make the reading easier for younger readers, and would suggest other books written by Beverly Cleary. Some of the author's other novels include similar stories that address a problem that young children may have with their own lives. These books can help them relate with some of those problems
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Outlook on Dear Mr. Henshaw, January 29, 2000
By A Customer
Leigh Botts begins to write his favorite author,Mr. Henshaw.Mr. Henshaw's letters inspire Leigh to keep a journal,which help him to become a better writer, while helping him cope withhis parents' divorce, being the new boy in school, and finding his own place in the world. Leigh is faced with problems at school when a lunch bag bandit continues to steal treats out of his lunch, problems at home concerning his neglecting father, who doesn't call when he says he will and doesn't visit when he promises.
As a young girl I always loved reading Beverly Cleary books. That's why I chose to review Dear Mr. Henshaw. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is full of many emotions happiness, sadness, cruelty, that can relate to any child in almost any situation. Hardships Leigh experienced, both in school and in his personal family life are very similar to many of the hardships children in this society are facing everyday. Children may be interested in knowing that the hardships they face at home are not uncommon and they are not alone. Children who are more fortunate may be interested in the book as well, they may learn to appreciate their lives a little more. I recommend that children perhaps in grades three through six read a book of this nature and I strongly believe they will find it very enjoyable. This isn't a book I would choose to read aloud, it is something I feel to be quietly read alone. I would definitely read more books by this author. I am already familiar with Beverly Cleary's work and I enjoy reading her novels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Henshaw, January 29, 2003
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
The book I read was called Dear Mr. Henshaw, the author is Beverly Cleary. The genre of the book is realistic fiction and the publisher is Scholastic.
Beverly Cleary's style is different. Most of the book is written in letter form. You will find out about Leigh and his life by reading letters from Leigh to Mr.Henshaw, who is a childrens author. Leigh started writing to him about his favorite book (that Mr. Henshaw wrote)Ways to Amuse a Dog. Then, afterwards, they begin to be e-pals. The book changes form to personal narrative and Leigh shares parts of his diary in the book.
The book is about a boy named Leigh Botts whose parents are divorced. He wants them back together but they won't because they do not get along with each other and they always argue. He wants them to get back together because he wants to have a normal family and he wants a dad to help him build things,like a burgalar alarm for his lunch box.
Leigh Botts is a very nice 11 year old boy. He likes his dog, Bandit, but he never sees him because he lives with his dad (and Leigh lives with his mom.). He and his mom live in an apartment building next to the gas station so they can't have a dog. Leigh is sad about his parents being divorced and misses his dad.
My favorite part of the book was when Leigh writes about the book he really likes. He wrote he "licked" instead of "liked" and the whole class laughed and they actually licked the book! Can you imagine a class licking a book? Yuck!
The book made me feel happy and sad at the same time. I was happy when Leigh and his father met again. I can't imagine not having a father, it must be so hard. I became sad when his dad left and his parents didn't get re-married.
My opinion is that it is a great book! I think it is a good book because the author makes the book come alive and I would recommend this to kids between the ages of 8-11. If you like books with letters and diaries, then this is your kind of book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Critical Reflection of Dear Mr. Henshaw, December 9, 2000
By 
K. Lianne March (Clemson University, SC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
Cleary, Beverly. Dear Mr. Henshaw. Harper Trophy: New York, 1983.
DeLuca, Geraldine. " 'Composing a Life': The Diary of Leigh Botts." The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children's Literature 14:2 (1990): 58-65.
Beverly Cleary's novel Dear Mr. Henshaw is about a young boy, Leigh Botts, who begins writing to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw; because the author doesn't have time to answer such frequent letters, he advises Leigh to keep a diary instead. Leigh continues writing to Mr. Henshaw but keeps most of the letters in a diary instead of mailing them. Over the time that Leigh writes in his diary, he learns about himself and his feelings both toward the people around him and the situations he lives with.
The novel seems simple due to its main literary tool, the informal letter, but the message is much more complex and poignant. Many people have seen the powerful effects of journaling, and Leigh Botts's writing is no exception, though he doesn't seem to realize that the writing has helped him overcome some of his troubles. He begins writing to Mr. Henshaw as a school assignment to ask ten questions of an author for a book report. Then, when Mr. Henshaw replies with ten questions of his own for Leigh, Leigh no longer wishes to correspond, but his mother forces him to answer the questions out of courtesy. Some of Mr. Henshaw's questions, such as "What is your family like?" and "Where do you live?" elicit strong feelings about his family situation. Leigh's parents are divorced, and he lives with his mother in a small house with a broken television. His father, a truck driver, took their dog with him and usually neglects to call when he=s promised to. Mr. Henshaw's other questions, "What bothers you?" and "What do you wish?" evoke other feelings about someone continually stealing the "good stuff" from his lunch bag and the fact that his dad never says he misses him or even calls him by his name. The fact that Leigh is writing his thoughts on paper seems to help him through his struggles, even if it is just to vent his anxiety and frustration. Mr. Henshaw's questions help Leigh to focus on some problems in his life that he may have realized but probably otherwise wouldn't have concentrated on without the help of the questions. Some of the first impressive aspects of Leigh's letters to Mr. Henshaw are his honesty and openness about his personal feelings. Even when he writes actual letters to Mr. Henshaw rather than in his diary, Leigh tells him openly about his father and how he feels about his situation.
In her article " 'Composing a Life': The Diary of Leigh Botts," Geraldine DeLuca describes the novel as being modeled like the ideas in a book by David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner, entitled Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self wherein readers are instructed to write a story composed of three parts: a personal memory of a paradise, a time when the paradise is lost, and finally a time when the paradise is regained. To DeLuca, Leigh lost his paradise when his parents divorced, though the existence of the paradise "is only briefly recorded through Leigh's letters" (DeLuca 59). He finally regains some sense of a paradise when he learns to take control of his life (his lunch-burglar alarm) and realize that he can't always trust his father when he makes promises. As disheartening as that fact is to a child, DeLuca points out, "At least he knows what he knows" (64).
In Dear Mr. Henshaw, Cleary does an excellent job of conveying the story of a young boy whose family is no longer nuclear, and the way he finds strength through writing his thoughts in a diary. The letters are an efficient way to show the point of view of an eleven-year-old boy and show his true character as he changes throughout the novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What you need to know about Dear Mr. Henshaw, December 20, 2008
This review is from: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) (Paperback)
The first thing to know about this book is that it is not at all similar to Beverly Cleary's other books -- Beezus, Ramona, Henry, that whole gang are not here. This book is truly poignant. The tone, the subject matter, the style, everything about this book is more serious and thoughtful than the other books which are delightful, lighthearted, fun.

Now that you know that, it's also good to know that this book is beautifully written and tells a moving story of a boy coming to grips with his parents' relationship and how it has and will affect his life. There is humor in the book, and it's not all doom and gloom, but the boy's feelings are vividly expressed, and often he's isolated, confused, and sad. If you are a parent, I'd recommend that you read the book too so that your child can talk to you about it. For kids who've experienced divorce or an adult who has seriously disappointed them, this book may bring up strong feelings. For kids who haven't experienced any of this (yet), it will help them to understand that the story is something that really could happen, and maybe to help them feel grateful for the family life they have.
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Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books)
Dear Mr. Henshaw (Avon Camelot Books) by Beverly Cleary (Paperback - May 31, 2000)
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