Another Trendy Tuesday, another brand-new picture book! Today, I’m reviewing Waiting by Kevin Henkes, which was published less than a month ago on September 1st. Henkes is a very talented guy who both writes and illustrates his own books, and he has won the Caldecott Award (for Kitten’s First Full Moon) as well as a Caldecott Honor and two Newbery Honors.
His newest offering, Waiting, follows the story of five toys who sit on a ledge, well, waiting: an owl, a pig, a bear, a puppy, and a rabbit. Each of the five waits for something different. The pig, who wears a dress and carries and umbrella, waits for the rain, while the owl waits for the moon. However, each toy gets what he or she waits for in the end.
This simple but elegant picture book is definitely targeted to younger readers, pre-school to perhaps first grade. Waiting can be a tough concept for impatient young kids to understand, and this book offers an excellent example-in-action for young readers who are trying to figure out why they can’t do something right now.
The text uses repeating word patterns throughout to help kids keep track of the various toys and what they are waiting for, once again indicating that this book is targeted towards younger readers. The simple sentences are all short and declarative, with only a few running longer than about ten words, making it easy to read and understand.
As for the illustrations, Henkes uses a limited pastel palette based on the toys themselves. He draws the scenes in gentle, calming shares of brown, pink, blue, and green, complemented by a slightly off-white background. Most of the pictures stick to the restricted environment of the window and the ledge, and the limited palette contrasts with the bright, outlandish pictures of many other books.
However, the restrained illustrations are a perfect match for a book that deals with a book about waiting (which is all about self-restraint, after all). The repetitive word patterns and calming color patterns make this a good option for a bedtime story — I definitely felt a little bit soothed as I read it myself, especially after paging through some other, more wildly illustrated picture books beforehand.
Waiting doesn’t seek to take on controversial topics or weighty historical events, but it does accomplish its goal successfully: demonstrate a hard-to-explain concept through charming illustrations and approachable text. If you have some impatient kids who simply can’t understand that they can’t have or do whatever they want immediately, turn to this book to help you explain what waiting is and why it’s important.
As a bonus, here’s an interview Kevin Henkes did with NPR just a couple days ago about Waiting and what it’s like to write children’s books:
By Kara Sherrer