Cleary’s Newbery Medal winner follows the young sixth-grader Leigh Potts, who writes to his favorite author Boyd Henshaw to interview him for a book report. Through the epistolary novel the reader learns of Leigh’s real-life struggles as he deals with his parents’ divorce and bullies at school.
begins with the book's main character, Leigh Botts, writing a letter to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. He continues to write him letters occasionally until the 6th grade, when he is expected to write a letter to his favorite author. Naturally, he chooses to write to Mr. Henshaw, and asks him a series of questions. Mr. Henshaw writes back with clever and playfully antagonistic responses and some questions for Leigh to answer. Initially Leigh is reluctant to reply to Mr. Henshaw, but Leigh's mother finds out and demands he show Mr. Henshaw the courtesy of a reply, too.
Boyd Henshaw has been Leigh Bott’s favorite author 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 lunch bag. Then Leigh's teacher assigns a letter-writing project. Naturally, Leigh chooses to write to Mr. Henshaw, whose surprising answer changes Leigh's life.