Henry And Ribsy – by Beverly Cleary (1954)

Author Beverly Cleary was a champion of books written specifically for boys. As a children’s librarian, she often had trouble finding books that elementary-age boys were interested in. Her frustration prompted her to write a book called “Henry Huggins” in 1950. It featured an ordinary boy named Henry, who finds a stray dog and wants to keep him.

The book was so well received that Ms. Cleary wrote more books about Henry and his dog Ribsy. Boys – and girls – kept reading her books, and she kept writing more for them. Even today, you will find her books in school libraries and in classrooms. Her formula for success was in keeping it realistic. She wrote about things that most kids encounter, regardless of whether it is 1954 or 2021.

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The Rainmaker – by John Grisham (1995)

Author John Grisham has taken many twists and turns in his writing style. Being a lawyer in real life, his early books featured lawyers and courtrooms, the things he knew best. This period covered his first eleven novels, published between 1989 and 2000. Each book was an instant hit, and soared to the top of the New York Best Sellers list. Some of his novels were made into movies.

The next decade of writing was quite different. He wrote a small-town mystery, a humorous Christmas novella, two books centered on football, a non-fiction book about a man wrongfully convicted, a book of short stories, and a kids’ book – Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. There were also some courtroom stories, but clearly he was trying to break out of his old pattern of writing.

From 2011 to the present, Mr. Grisham has once again given courtrooms and lawyers a large part of his writings. In several of his books, he returns to the little town of Clanton, sharing a bit of nostalgia. Although these newer books were enjoyable, none of them reached the pinnacle of the books he wrote in his first decade of novels. Mr. Grisham wrote five more Theodore Boone books for kids, and these were actually – in my opinion – some of his best work from this period.

“The Rainmaker” was written during what I would call the Grisham golden era, the first decade.

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