Kevin Henkes, Kitten’s First Full Moon
Published 2004 by Greenwillow Books. An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. 40p
Books open hearts and eyes. Kevin Henkes has always loved libraries and has always wanted to become an artist. His beliefs in children are amazing.
Sometimes I think as adults we think of them as — because they’re small in size that they’re small in all ways — and they’re not. They have big feelings, and they have big eyes, they see things, they hear things, they’re living life just the way an adult does and I think sometimes as adults we forget that.
Books bring magic in our lives and give us super powers. Kevin Henkes’ Kitten’s First Full Moon is such an example. Children will adore this little cat that becomes a symbol of perseverance and innocence. Kitten is a dream catcher, a hungry and brave character that faces challenge, disappointment, capitulation and reward.
In a square book, in simple yet extremely expressive black and white illustrations, using many geometrical shapes, Henkes tells the story of a kitten that sees her first moon and thinks it is a bowl of milk. I loved the humor and the warmth of the text:
So she closed her eyes and stretched her neck and opened her mouth and licked. But Kitten only ended up with a bug on her tongue. Poor Kitten!
There is a refrain
Still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting
that helps the visual of the text and sets its rhythm. It is also a kind of motto that makes Kitten persist and make efforts to achieve her goals. Like all children she makes strategies and changes plans. She springs from the top step of the porch, she chases the moon and climbs the tallest tree. And again, like all children she forgets about the small moon when she sees another one, bigger, in the pond. Wet, tired and disappointed after having chased just a reflection, Kitten goes home where there is a great bowl of milk on the porch.
The book is a winner of the Caldecott Medal and I am not surprised; it is the definition of innocence, the perfect illustration of children’s efforts to achieve goals and to understand the process itself. It is a funny, warm and extremely artistic story and I really savored its exuberance.