Dear Mr. Henshaw, I wish somebody would stop stealing the good stuff out of my lunchbag. I guess I wish a lot of other things, too. I wish someday Dad and Bandit would pull up in front in the rig … Dad would yell out of the cab, “Come on, Leigh. Hop in and I’ll give you a lift to school.” Leigh Botts has been author Boyd Henshaw’s number one fan ever since he was in second grade. Now in sixth grade, Leigh lives with his mother and is the new kid at school. He’s lonely, troubled by the absence of his father, a cross-country trucker, and angry because a mysterious thief steals from his lunchbag. Then Leigh’s teacher assigns a letter-writing project. Naturally Leigh chooses to write to Mr. Henshaw, whose surprising answer changes Leigh’s life.
<p>Beverly Cleary is one of America’s most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, Oregon, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children’s books when she grew up.</p><p>Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, “Where are the books about kids like us?” she remembered her teacher’s encouragement and was inspired to write the books she’d longed to read but couldn’t find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born!</p><p>Mrs. Cleary’s books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children’s literature. <em>Dear Mr. Henshaw</em> won the Newbery Medal, and <em>Ramona Quimby, Age 8</em> and <em>Ramona and Her Father</em> have been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.</p>
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