Thursday, September 20, 2012

Audiobook Review: Dear Mr. Henshaw

Cleary, B.  (2009).  Dear Mr. Henshaw.  New York:  Harper Collins Publishers.

1 hour 44 minutes.

While I was asking some previous students about their favorite childhood reads, Dear Mr. Henshaw by the great Beverly Cleary was mentioned a few times.  Based on the cover and title, I--ever so cleverly--deduced that it was somehow related to writing and just miiiiiiiight be worth checking-out.

My hypothesis proved true!  Dear Mr. Henshaw *is* about writing and shows a young boy's development into an author.  I'm left trying to figure out how I can incorporate it into my "teaching of writing" course.

Appetizer:  Following Leigh through several school years, his parents divorce, he moves, deals with a lunch thief, struggles to make friends and develops as a writer.  Dear Mr. Henshaw is an epistolary novel, beginning with his first letters to his favorite children's author who doesn't always respond.  Inspired to write, some of Leigh's unsent letters serve a diary entries).

I was struck by how realistic the book was.  The ending is not purely happy.  There are no improbable coincidences.  People don't magical change or improve.  Nobody wins the lottery.  It's *real* or true to life.  I could imagine this being some young readers' first novel that doesn't end with "happily ever after."

In terms of the audiobook narration, Pedro Pascal clearly had an adult voice (which can sometimes be off-putting), but he did such a good job of capturing Leigh's emotions that I found the audiobook narration flowed well and didn't get in the way of my enjoyment of the story.

Now, I must find a way to incorporate Dear Mr. Henshaw into my current "teaching of writing" course...I might focus on Leigh's growth as a writer.

Tasty Rating:  !!!

1 comment:

  1. Man, I read that one back in the day but I have almost no memory of the plot at all. I think I liked it, though!



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