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Top 100 Picture Books #25: Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

#25 Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (2004)
59 points

Now here is an interesting change!  The last time this particular Henkes title made the list I remember writing something along the lines of “The man has consistently produced good book after good book, but the problem is that people don’t always agree on his best.”  Maybe this accounts for the way in which Kitten has clawed her way up the charts.  Where before she came in at a modest #87.  Today she sits proudly at #25

The plot is pretty simple.  Cat wants to get to the moon because it looks like a big bowl of milk.  Hijinks ensue.

On a post about four-color printing the now sadly defunct Editorial Anonymous posted this interesting info: “Kitten’s First Full Moon was expensive to print. Have you wondered how they achieved such a rich black and white look? How many unique colors do you think went into the printing?  Answer: seven!”

  • Never seen it?  Read the whole book here.

The great and very missed Elizabeth Ward of The Washington Post wrote of this book: “Henkes’s black-and-white drawings (the colors of night, moon and milk) have an Asian subtlety and simplicity — appropriately enough for a moon-obsessed cat. ‘What a night!’ Kitten concludes. What a picture book!”

Karla Kuskin concurred in The New York Times with her own: “In the classic children’s-book convention, the story is succinctly told, pared down to a beginning, a middle and the end. The pictures fit the words perfectly, with equal amounts of simplicity and charm. As the title implies, there are two stars in this story: the moon, which doubles as a bowl of milk, and Kitten.”

Said SLJ, “Done in a charcoal and cream-colored palette, the understated illustrations feature thick black outlines, pleasing curves, and swiftly changing expressions that are full of nuance. The rhythmic text and delightful artwork ensure storytime success. Kids will surely applaud this cat’s irrepressible spirit.”

Horn Book, however, had the best recap of them all saying, “Anyone who has ever watched a cat spasmodically pounce and chase for no apparent reason will enjoy the imaginative, unpretentiously poetic method Henkes reads into this madness.”

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.