Cleary, B. (1983). Dear Mr. Henshaw. NY: Morrow.
Leigh Botts has a fascination with Boyd Henshaw’s book, Ways to Amuse a Dog, and so he begins to write letters to Mr. Henshaw to ask for tips to help with his writing. After his parents separate, he moves to a new town with his mother and struggles to make new friends. He even has to figure out who is stealing his lunches. Amongst all of these issues, he is also dealing with anger toward his absent father. Leigh continues to write to Mr. Henshaw as well as write in his journal as he works through the problems of adolescence.
Character and Style-
The two most important evaluative criteria from Dear Mr. Henshaw are character and style. Leigh Botts is a character who should be very familiar to the readers. He is a young boy struggling with very common feats, divorcing parents and moving schools. He is a realistic, dynamic character that readers watch grow throughout the story. He begins to understand how to deal with his parent’s divorce and bullies at school. Another important factor is the style that Cleary uses to present the story. The story is written almost entirely in letter format. At first, Leigh is writing letters to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw, but these letters later turn into a personal journal for Leigh. This style gives a very personal feel to the story of a young boy struggling through his adolescence.