written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
“The picture books texts I love most are those that are so succinct that not one word can be extracted and not one word need be added.” –Kevin Henkes, Caldecott Medal Acceptance Speech
Kitten’s First Full Moon depicts Kitten’s journey as she hunts for the moon that she thinks is a big bowl of milk. Poor Kitten! Kitten eats a bug, falls down porch stairs, and gets stuck at the tip top of a tree, and leaps into a pond before returning home to her own big bowl of milk.
This 2005 Caldecott Medal winning book is absolutely spectacular. Henkes’ book is illustrated entirely in black and white, and is created through a combination of thick brush strokes and black and gray colored pencil shading. Kitten’s First Full Moon was printed on a full color press in four colors, giving the illustrations a rich, three-dimensional feel.
Like Henkes states in his Caldecott Medal Acceptance speech, “Kitten is a child. She is myopic. She is curious. She is persistent. She wants and wants and wants. She makes mistakes. She misunderstands. She gets hurt. She is confused. She is scared. She is also a symbol, a symbol that says: childhood is anything but easy” (Henkes, 2005) Children can easily identify with Kitten. Childhood is scary, confusing, impulsive, and full of mistakes; children are growing up and learning as Kitten is growing up and learning.
“So she pulled herself together and wiggled her bottom and sprang from the top step of the porch.”
The beautiful illustrations, the simplicity of Henkes text, and the correspondence between text and pictures on each page results in a phenomenal book. Children can practice reading and decoding skills and use pictures and context clues to build upon comprehension skills. All the while, they are enjoying a playful story about an adventurous young Kitten.
Henkes, K. (2004). Kitten’s first full moon. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
Henkes, K. (2005). Caldecott medal acceptance. The Horn Book Magazine, 81(4), 397-402.