The Charm of Kevin Henkes

Zarlacht Atiqzoy
May 20, 2011

Has a little white mouse ever looked so sweet? Or how about precious, priceless, fascinating and winsome? It does in the wonderful world of Kevin Henkes, Caldecott Medalist and New York Times bestseller of beloved children's mouse books and so much more. The mouse series introduces us to their small world of entirely large imaginations -- ones that all of us can relate to and cheer for. Henkes' words and drawings on the page are as charmingly simple and witty as he is, noting in his bio that, at an early age, he had "great respect" for books he was lucky to own and constantly wondered about authors and illustrators and "what did they look like? At the age of nineteen, he left home in Wisconsin for the big apple, where his dreams "magically" came true and now lives the life he has always wondered about.

That wonder and persistence is woven into Henkes' books and characters, making his collection a favorite among the modern family with old school charm.

Chrysanthemum
Oh, yes. Her parents really did name her after a flower. Because she is "absolutely perfect" and anyone who thinks otherwise is "envious and begrudging and discontented and jaundiced," according to her father. Chrysanthemum loves her name, until her first day of school when her classmates point out that it "scarcely" fits on her name tag, and has "exactly half as many letters in the entire alphabet!" The school days following don't get any better, giving the little heart broken mouse nightmares. She forges on with the encouragement and love of her parents, trusting that her name is uniquely hers, just like who she is. All of this changes when Mrs. Twinkle, the music teacher stops by, and the children quickly learn a valuable lesson. So, too, will your little ones when you read this book together, filled with wonderful vocabulary and expressions that make this book an instant classic.

A Good Day
The first time I read this book to my daughter, my eyes started to water. Drawn to the amazing and vibrant illustrations, each page takes us on a journey of what happened on this day to a little yellow bird, little white dog, little orange fox and little brown squirrel. With a little patience, persistence and discovery of a new view point, the little animals learn that what appears to go awry at first glance is actually a prelude to having a very good day. The surprise ending assures us this is so, when a new character is introduced. A Good Day is the first illustrated book that I actually purchased a second copy of to frame its pages on my daughter's wall to remind us how there is something good to be found in everything...

Kitten's First Full Moon
There is no brightness lacking in this black and white illustrated Caldecott Medal book. Kitten sees the moon, but believes it to be a bowl of milk. She is hungry and thirsty, so it must be! The yearning for milk, and the persistence to get it brings her an adventure of sorts first, from a bug on her tongue, to tumbling down stairs. Still, the little kitten strives above her frustrations, giving young readers a taste of actions and their consequences -- and how sometimes, they are not how we imagine them to be.

From the Parents

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