If the legendary author Margaret Wise Brown has an heir apparent in children's books, writer-illustrator Kevin Henkes just might be it. For all the Goodnight Moon wannabes published each year, few come close to truly attaining the status of a classic. But it's a sure bet that Henkes' latest picture book, Kitten's First Full Moon, will be beloved by children and parents for a long, long time.
The premise is astonishingly simple. Rendered in gray and black, the story follows a little kitten who sees a full moon for the first time. She imagines that it is a bowl of milk in the sky a bowl of milk she instantly longs to taste.
When Kitten first sticks out her tongue, she only manages to catch a bug. Poor Kitten! Yet she does not give up, for, as the story's refrain goes: "Still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting." Preschoolers and adults, too, will giggle as Kitten tries to capture that elusive bowl of milk. She leaps from the steps, tumbles to the ground and chases it frantically through the garden. The suspense only grows when Kitten decides to get closer by climbing a tree. She can't reach that bowl of milk in the sky. But at her feet, reflected in the pond, what does she spy? You guessed it, another, even bigger bowl of milk! Poor Kitten, indeed, for now she's not only hungry and thirsty, but wet, tired and sad.
Readers will be glad to know that the story ends in a satisfactory and comforting way. From the endpapers with their round bowl-of-milk circles, to the exclamation on the back cover ("WHAT A NIGHT!"), Kitten's First Full Moon is a wonderful addition to children's literature. Not only will it be asked for again and again, adults won't tire of reading it. WHAT A BOOK!
Deborah Hopkinson's most recent adventure for children is Sailing for Gold: Book One of the Klondike Kid Trilogy.