Leedy, Loreen. 1991.
MESSAGES IN THE MAILBOX: HOW TO
WRITE A LETTER. New York: Holiday House.
Messages in the Mailbox
is an informational book that teaches the reader how to write a friendly letter, business
letter, postcard message, invitation, thank-you note, get-well letter, sympathy letter, note of apology, congratulations letter,
request letter, how to address an envelope. The book discusses the parts of a
letter, such as the heading, salutation, body and closing signature. It is full
of examples and illustrations to guide the reader.
Leedy’s book grabs
the reader’s interest in writing letters by providing an interesting setting.
There are characters like Mrs. Gator (the schoolteacher) and Hog (a student) that add personality to this book. The reader could become so involved in the characters, that it is easy to learn about
writing letters and not even realize that the book is serving as a teaching tool.
The topics used in Messages
in the Mailbox include inviting people to a party, writing family members and sending postcards while on vacation. All of these topics help the reader relate to the book. By presenting the familiar, the author is successful in introducing new aspects about how writing letters
can be fun and serve lots of purposes.
In the introductory of
the book, the reader is fondly invited to explore the book, in the form of a short letter.
By using sentences like, “It will help you stay in touch” and “why not write a letter to someone
today” offers a sense of comfort and curiosity to the reader- instead of using “this book will teach you how to
write letters.” Just reading the introductory letter may influence the
reader to read the book and write a letter.
There is a personal touch
to the book, providing the reader with a new perspective on why they should learn to write letters: to stay in touch with
a loved one, to invite someone, or to thank someone. The examples allow the reader to relate and realize that a letter is
a great form of communication.
The presentation of how
to write a letter captures the reader’s attention. The book teaches not
only about how to write a letter but also why writing letters is important. In
a sense, the book helps its readers to identify with how people feel when they receive letters from others – teaching
them how to have sympathy and show to their feelings through writing.
Messages in the Mailbox
is a pleasure to read to and with young children.
The writing style is conversational, adding to the meaning of why writing letters is important. The book contains pictures throughout, which are appealing to its reader, offering a chance to be involved
The sentences are interesting and understandable, adding a broader meaning to the book, because characters featured
in the book help take the focus off the idea of learning. The reader is free
to explore the book without thinking about a teacher making them read this book. It
makes learning to write letters fun and practical.