Mice who get worried, mice who are best friends, mice who are brave… Children’s book author and illustrator Kevin Henkes has nine adorable mouse characters with distinct personalities that he writes and paints into picture books about growing up.
Henkes is expert at stepping into a child’s world and telling stories about life changing moments. You can read about what happens when Owen wants to take his fuzzy yellow blanket to school. Read about how Penny finally shares a song she learned with her family. Find out why Chrysanthemum’s classmates think her name is funny and what happens in school. There are serious issues for young children and Henkes writes about many of them.
Based in Wisconsin, Henkes has been writing and illustrating books for more than 30 years. As he says on his website, http://www.kevinhenkes.com, “It’s the only real job I’ve ever had.” Surprisingly, Henkes writes out his stories in longhand with a pen then types them up on a typewriter with a ribbon. He uses animal characters so he can “better tap the humor of the text.”
Mouse characters are just one of many types of books Henkes has created. His most recently published are picture books for very young children, such as “Little White Rabbit” and Caldecott winner “Kitten’s First Full Moon.” With these he distills the text down to the golden nugget of an idea and keeps the story very simplistic. Henkes says he has to be direct with the illustrations and he writes and rewrite until the rhythm of the text is just right.
Henkes also writes novels for young adults. He describes the process of writing longer books as using words to make shadow, light, and color instead of his paint. Titles include “Junonia,” “Bird Lake Moon,” and “Olive’s Ocean.” In his novels he has one partial page of an illustration per chapter.
No matter what age he is writing for, his goal is to create “a book that is entertaining that a kid will love. Keeping that in mind urges me to make the very best books possible. I know how important the books from my childhood were (and are) to me. Without them, I might not be a writer and artist today.”
“Sometimes I’ll hear from a parent about how a book of mine has insinuated itself into the heart of his or her child, or how a phrase from one of my books has become part of the family’s daily jargon. I love that.”
Check out the selection of books by Kevin Henkes and see which resonate with your children. As Henkes says, “Expose our kids to books and art and nothing but good can come from it.”