Mrs. Badger is the "mystery author" that the winning students get to have lunch with. Leigh is over the moon that "she called me an author. A real live author called me an author" (58.12). How cool is that?
Mrs. Badger encourages Leigh to continue writing honestly and "like you" inside of trying to "imitate someone else" (58.13, 15). Sometimes young writers fall into the trap of wanting to "write books exactly like yours" (7.2), as Leigh wrote to Mr. Henshaw early in the story. One of Mr. Henshaw's tips to Leigh was to find his own voice, and here's Mrs. Badger praising him for doing exactly that. Our guess? That's exactly what Beverly Cleary thinks, too.