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.