Newbery Book Review

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Dear Blog Reader,

This week I had the opportunity to read a book by one of my favorite childhood author’s: Beverly Cleary.  Ramona Quimby was a staple of my childhood as was Henry and Ribsy, Beezus and the mouse who loved his motorcycle.  But, I had never actually read the one that won her the Newbery award: Dear Mr. Henshaw.  Written as a series of one-sided letters from Leigh Botts to his favorite author Mr. Henshaw the story centers around Leigh’s difficulty with his parents divorce and his loneliness at school.  The reader’s view of the story is extremely limited to whatever Leigh chooses to share in his letters and/or diary.  We never know the thoughts of his mom, trucker dad or anyone else in the story unless Leigh himself observes something or explains a situation.  It’s definitely an interesting way to write a story, and I did enjoy it to some extent.  To me the frustrating aspect of this literary form is that when the book ends you feel like you’re still left hanging.  It’s like the story is really never supposed to end even though you’ve had your climax, denouement and everything else that makes a story a story.  When Joan and I were looking through the Newbery list together and mentioning our favorites (we both love Walk Two Moons by the way.  Kindred soul that Joan.) she said, “I don’t understand why Dear Mr. Henshaw won.”  Well June, I agree with you.  Perhaps it’s my bias to Cleary’s other more well-known and beloved characters that makes me wonder why they only won the Newbery honor and this one won the medal.  But what are you going to do with librarians?  They’re a tricky bunch.  Who knew what was going through their mind when they chose this one?  Maybe all the other candidates for 1984 were awful.  In any case,  it was nice to be reminded of Ramona by virtue of the author and to be reminded that Beverly Cleary lived in Portland and that the Klickitat street where Ramona lived actually exists.  One more reason I love the city I live in.



Dear Blog Reader,

We’ve had a wonderful week, soaking in the Christmas spirit as well as the presence of family and friends.  We had a relaxing day yesterday where a fire was usually present in the fireplace, friends and family alike were here for breakfast, gifts were opened, knitting was finished and White Christmas was watched.   Amazing.  And since the gifts have finally been distributed I can show the pictures of my handiwork!


Till next week.



The pictures are as follows: Annika’s fingerless gloves, Christina’s leg warmer (one of two), Mom Johnson’s cowl, Mom’s scarf, Dad’s i-phone sock, Forrest’s last minute gloves.


3 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Henshaw

  1. I read your blog to see a book through your eyes/mind as well as the pure enjoyment of reading your craft of writing. I am never disappointed and always delighted.

    Being in your cozy home over Christmas was like a taste of heaven. Seeing how you have created a lovely home with inviting nooks to read in…books everywhere…which is our hearts life blood and seems to have been passed onto you…makes an inviting retreat. Watching Forrest watch the birds and squirrels and then sketch them to perfection was a delight. Your lives are so entwined that it’s like watching or hearing a beautiful symphony. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the score this week. Our souls are refreshed. And we can’t wait to visit again!

  2. AND I LOVE my scarf!!!! Perfect for me…and precious the hands that made it. What a sacrifice of time and love. AND..Dad loves the picture of the bird that Forrest made for him. It sits in a place of honor in our home. Hugs to you both…Fran and Bear too :)

    • ALSO…sad that my brain is so slow on the uptake :)…your Dad loves his iphone cozy. He is so proud of it!!! I’m tempted to grab it when he is not looking and putting my glasses in it :)

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