Who would have thought that a bunch of cute mice could help a child expecting a new baby brother or teach a child about showing respect? Author and illustrator of 49 books and counting, Kevin Henkes does just that and more.
My first exposure to Kevin Henkes was reading his book Julius, the Baby of the World nearly fifteen years ago. To this day, it is one of my favorite children's books and is a constant request from children at my house. It is the story of Lilly learning to appreciate her younger brother after she has to stand up for him. If you haven't read it, you have to! There are so many clever words and pictures, but my kids love this one:
"A book well-made can open the mind of a child. Keeping the child in mind is a part of my job—it’s essential," Henkes said.
Children's literature inspired Henkes even as a child. He poured over books and was intrigued by their authors and illustrators. After his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin in 1979, Henkes decided to take a chance on his own budding talent. He headed to New York and the first publisher he stopped at, Greenwillow Books, snatched him up.
Since then he has earned many medals and honors, including the Newberry Honor for Olive's Ocean (2004), one of his novels. He also earned the much sought after Caldecott Medal for Kitten's Full Moon (2005). One of his most popular books is Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse where his quirky character learn the consequences of revenge and how to make amends.
Though all of Henkes books are fun to read for adults and children alike, they have themes and give life lessons. Henkes admits that for him "making books and living life are entwined." He also believes what the author Fay Weldon wrote, “Writing is an odd activity. Other people have occupations, jobs. The writer’s work is the life and there can be no holiday from it. If the pen is not working, the mind is thinking. The unconscious ponders on, even in sleep you are not safe. Dreams pertain to life and life to dreams and both to work.”