In addition to reading for fun and to fight cancer, I’m also doing a book challenge with some work friends. The books we have to read are:
- a book published this year
- a book published year you were born
- a book you’ve been meaning to read
- a book recommended by you librarian/bookseller/others doing the challenge
- a book you should have read in school
- a book chosen for you by a spouse/partner/sibling/child/BFF/others doing the challenge
- a book published before you were born
- a book that was banned at some point
- a book you previously abandoned
- a book you own but have never read
- a book that intimidates you/not you reading interests
- a book you have already read at least once
- a book in a series
- a book you can read in a day
Even though I’ve Cannonball’d already, I didn’t have a book for each item, yet. I didn’t have a book published the year I was born. Hence, Dear Mr. Henshaw. I read the book in elementary school, but, like a lot of children’s books, I didn’t understand this Newberry winner until I was much older.
Dear Mr. Henshaw is a series of letters and journals written by a young man named Leigh (LEE – he wants you to pronounce it right). He writes to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. Mr. Henshaw writers him back and encourages him to keep on writing, either imaginary stories or diaries. Leigh splits the difference and writes a daily journal but addresses it to “Mr. Henshaw”.
Through the letters and journals, the reader watch Leigh grow up. His parents separate and divorce, he moves to a new town, he tries to make friends, he deals with adolescent angst. He worries and triumphs. Even though Ms. Cleary wrote the story more than thirty years ago, the themes related to growing up are still relevant. As Leigh observes, it’s nice to be noticed. Maybe that’s all any of us want out of life – to be noticed.