Kitten’s First Full Moon is a Caldecott Award winning picture book written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. The book was published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, in 2004. Accompanied by gouache and colored pencil illustrations copied in black and white, this book tells the story of a kitten who mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk, and details the events that transpire because of this misconception.
The first time the kitten tries to take a sip of the moonlight, she slurps up a lighting bug. Her second attempt is not much more successful; she attempts to pounce on the moon and falls down the stairs. Next, she tries to chase the moon, but finds that it never gets closer, no matter how far she runs. The kitten then sees the moon reflected in a pond, and thinks that she has found an even bigger bowl of milk. She leaps into the pond and discovers that the bowl of milk has eluded her once again. She is “wet and sad and tired and hungry.” Poor kitten, indeed! When she returns home after her long search for the bowl of milk in the sky, she finds a bowl of milk waiting for her on her very own porch. She drinks the milk and falls asleep in the moonlight.
Henkes’ writing style makes this book a great option for an interactive read aloud with young children. Even from the summary on the inside of the dust jacket, it is clear that Kitten’s First Full Moon is rich with adjectives and description. This book is also a great introduction to figurative language. The main plot point, the kitten seeing the moon as a bowl of milk, is a metaphor. The language, such as the phrase “Poor Kitten,” repeats itself at times, which would support children’s ability to participate in a read aloud.
The illustrations in this book are simple and well-done. The black and white color scheme fits the nighttime setting and creates a soft glow that mimics the light of the moon. From the end paper composed of repeating miniature moons to the individual illustrations, this book is very aesthetically pleasing. Overall, the content, illustrations, and writing style of Kitten’s First Full Moon make it a great option for any teacher or parent of early elementary aged children.