In the letter dated September 20th in Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw, we learn that Leigh's sixth-grade teacher, Miss Martinez, has assigned her students to write reports about authors. Instead of doing research on his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw, Leigh writes Mr. Henshaw a list of interview questions. In the next letter, dated November 15th, we learn that Mr. Henshaw did not respond to Leigh's letter in time for Leigh to include the answers in his report and only gave "silly answers" in reply. The following are examples of Mr. Henshaw's joke answers:
... like your real name is Messing A. Round, and you don't have kids because you don't raise goats. ("November 15")
The one answer Mr. Henshaw gives that clearly reveals his motive for sending joke answers is the following:
... your favorite animal was a purple monster who ate children who sent authors long lists of questions for reports instead of learning to use the library. ("November 15")
In other words, Mr. Henshaw felt that Leigh should be approaching gathering information for his report the way any sixth grader should, by using the library for research. Apparently, Miss Martinez agrees with Mr. Henshaw, because, when Leigh reads the part about "purple monsters" aloud to the class, Leigh notes that Miss Martinez "didn't smile."
Leigh is angered by Mr. Henshaw's joke replies, so angered that he at first refuses to answer the questions Mr. Henshaw took the time to write Leigh. Leigh doesn't answer the questions until his mother insists that he should. Even still, Leigh rebels until she explains that the best way for Leigh to become a famous author like Mr. Henshaw is by taking Mr. Henshaw's advice: "read, look, listen, think and write" ("November 20").