Newbery Award Reviews

Review of Call It Courage and Dear Mr Henshaw

As I go through the Newbery winners I’m reviewing my favorite ones that I recommend reading. If you haven’t read my current reading goal you can find it here!

Call It Courage


Armstrong Sperry



Mafatu has been afraid of the sea for as long as he can remember. Though his father is the Great Chief of Hikueru–an island whose seafaring people worship courage–Mafatu feels like an outsider. All his life he has been teased, taunted, and even blamed for storms on the sea.

Then at age fifteen, no longer willing to put up with the ridicule of jibes, Mafatu decides to take his fate into his own hands. With his dog Uri, as his companion, Mafatu paddles out to sea, ready to face his fears. What he learns on his lonesome adventure will change him forever and make him a hero in the eyes of his people.


I wasn’t sure what to expect for this 1941 Newbery winner, but I was pleasantly surprised! It was an interesting, and adventurous story of not just courage and family, but also full of Polynesian culture.

Dear Mr. Henshaw


Beverly Cleary



Leigh Botts is in 6th grade and for class project he has to write a book report and a follow-up letter to the author, Mr Henshaw. He makes it perfectly clear to Mr Henshaw that he does not want to.

Over the course of the school year Leigh chooses to write on his own to Mr Henshaw about his life and he holds nothing back.

His writing eventually turns into a journal, which is the storyline for this book. Leigh works through feelings of being the new kid in class, adjusting to his parents being newly divorced and his dad being away all the time, as a long-haul truck driver. This story covers topics of bullying and divorce.


I grew up with Beverly Cleary books so this was a familiar author, yet I hadn’t read this 1984 Newbery winner. As a kid, I would still prefer to read The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

Thanks for following along with my Newbery Award challenge. Have you read these titles? Did Call it Courage remind you of the Disney Movie Moana? What are you reading tonight?

Happy reading!

#colecampfireblog, #newberybooks, #bookreviews, #beverlycleary, #callitcourage, #dearmrhenshaw, #childrensbooks,




6 replies »

  1. I remember both books well and loved them. Dear Mr. Henshaw reminds me of a kids “Letter to a Young Poet” in a lot of ways, but that’s probably just me since I make a lot of weird connections. I have not seen Moana so I can’t comment on that.

      • Nice, I would love to read the honors but I have like 80 to go with the winners… lol it’s going to take me forever! Lol

      • I can easily read ten to twelve kids books a week if I give myself the time…lol. I really enjoy them. I use my library’s ebooks for the time being. Today I read As Brave As You and tonight I’m reading The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast

      • That’s awesome! I love them too so far, but With blogging and my preschool I just don’t have a lot of time.. I wish I could fit in more reading.

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