This is a blog specifically created for the purposes of my Literature for Children and Young Adults class at Texas Woman's University. Coming soon will be reviews of titles ranging from children's fiction to poetry to young adult novels. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Kitten's First Full Moon

Henkes, Kevin. 2004. Kitten’s First Full Moon. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0060588284.

Kitten’s First Full Moon begins a kitten who spots what she thinks is a bowl of milk in the night sky and is the continuing tale of her journey to reach it as it is “just waiting for her.” But at every turn, no matter how hard she tries, she ends up unfulfilled and even worse off than she was. Once, she even sees the bowl of milk on the ground and takes a running jump into it only to find herself cold, wet and tired. After a long night and a long plight, the kitten finally gets her milk, but not the one for which she was searching.

This is a fabulous book with an upper crust of simplicity, but an extremely profound moral. It seems to be the tale of a hungry and “poor” kitten, but in reality the message seems to be that no matter how hard one tries to reach the unattainable and faraway “bowl of milk in the sky,” it might be worth it to look around where you are. Kitten strays from her home out into the wild world and puts herself through much ado when the milk which will satisfy her hungry tummy awaits her back on her own doorstep.

There are basic components of this book that make the work satisfying to children. One is the journey—the conflict—or plight of the kitten which propels us forward. Compels us, even. There is also the technique of repetition. The book repeats that the bowl of milk is “just waiting” for the kitten and that she is a “poor kitten” after every failed attempt to reach the bowl. But it is also complete in that there is a satisfying ending with the conclusion solving the predicament and turning our poor protagonist into a “lucky kitten.” The illustrations are in black and white but use bold, sultry and curvaceous lines and basic shading to echo the simplicity and depth of the story itself. says, “any child who has yearned for anything will understand how much Kitten wants that elusive bowl of milk.”
School Library Journal call it “an irresistible offering from the multifaceted Henkes… The rhythmic text and delightful artwork ensure storytime success.”
Booklist (starred review) says “Henkes creates another winner in this simple, charming story… Wise preschoolers may chuck at the kitten’s folly, but they’ll also recognize the mysterious power of moonlight to transform the familiar world of daytime into something altogether new.”

As stated, this would be a great book for discussions about the comfort, security of one’s own home even though a bigger, better world may call to us. That happiness might be just under our noses. But it might also facilitate the inverse discussion about how adventure awaits us in our own back yards.
A comparison of artwork between this and other Henkes books (Wemberly Worried, Ownen, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Sun & Spoon) might warrant further discussion about the author/illustrator’s varied artistic techniques. Or a comparison/contrast of the author’s children’s books against his young adult works.

Reviewed by Joelie Key-Tissot 09/09/06


Blogger JewelKowing said...

From a parent, this book was a delightful surprise. My daughter has loved this book since day 1, and now the reading ritual involves counting the moons on the back pages. Great find for fun family reading!

9:51 PM


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