Guest Post:Beginners Guide to Kevin Henkes

I am so thrilled to share with you this thoughtful guest post from Sarah of Desirous of Everything. It's been so much fun to work with her and pick her librarian brain for good reads for the wee ones (she's a children's librarian who lives in NY!). She's a wealth of knowledge of good books, so read what she has to say here and check out her lovely blog for more! Thanks Sarah!

Hi Goat Notes readers!  My name is Sarah and I blog over at Desirous of Everything.  I am a children's librarian  and am excited to share with you all books by one of my favorite children's book authors of all time.  Kevin Henkes!

Now maybe some of you hip Goat Notes reading mamas have already heard of Kevin Henkes, but I'm always surprised by the amount of people who haven't!  One of my favorite things about this author is his range.  His books range from very young picture books, to picture books for older children, to middle grade novels.  So you can continue to enjoy his books as your child grows, and if you're like me (I don't have kids but LOVE kid's books) then I'm absolutely positive that you will enjoy them too!

Here is an little starting guide for the Henkes beginner.  Look for him on the shelves the next time you make a trip to the library, I'm sure you'll be glad that you did!

A Beginners Guide to Kevin Henkes

Picture books Ages 2 and up:

Kitten's First Full Moon

From Amazon: "In this beautiful picture book, winner of the 2005 Caldecott Medal, Kevin Henkes, captures the sweet, sometimes slapstick struggle of Kitten, who sees her first full moon and thinks it's a bowl of milk in the sky."  How adorable is that story line? Not only is the story funny, but the black and white illustrations are striking.  Any toddler who has wanted something that's just out of there reach will relate to this story.  And don't worry, Kitten gets what she wants in the end.

A Good Day

Even three year olds can have a bad day sometimes, right?  This book tries to figure out what can turn a bad day into a good day, with colorful illustrations of adorable animals that give you the urge to hug something. Like maybe that three year old sitting in your lap and listening to this story.

Picture books ages 4 and up: "The Mouse Books"

Kevin Henkes has created a cast of adorable and memorable mouse characters that appear in his nine different "Mouse Books."  You'll want to read all of these and be picking your favorites right away.  I know Lilly is a really popular favorite, but I'm partial to Chrysanthemum and Chester and Wilson, myself.  It's hard to narrow down, but here are my top two:

Chester's Way

I will always love this book because I owned it as a child and grew up listening to my mother read it to me.  "Chester and Wilson, Wilson and Chester, that's the way it was.  Until Lilly moved into the neighborhood."  I leave it at that.  It is a very perfect friendship story.

Julius, the Baby of the World

Just the title of this book cracks me up.  You have to say it with emphasis, so you can really picture Lilly (the star of this book and the same Lilly from Chester's Way) rolling her eyes.  You see, Julius is Lilly's brand new baby brother, and her parents love him so very much.  Lilly, um, not so much.  She loved him before he was born in her mother's belly, but now that he's arrived, she asks her parents when he's leaving (hilarious) and whispers things into his crib while he's sleeping such as, "If you were a number you'd be zero."  A great read for older siblings when the new baby finally arrives.

Chapter book ages 10 and up

Olive's Ocean

What if a girl in your class died when you were twelve years old?  What if you barely knew that girl, but found out that she wrote in her journal how she thought you were "the nicest person in the whole class," and wanted to get to know you better?  That's what happens to Martha.  Olive Barstow was killed by a car a month earlier, and the book starts with Olive's mother telling Martha  that she thinks her daughter would have wanted Olive to have that journal entry.  Henkes manages to write a moving coming of age story about Martha, a girl examining her sense of self, relationship with her parents and friends and hopes for the future all with the startling and moving news about Olive in the background.  This is Olive's story as much as it is Marthas.  A beautiful novel that I highly recommend adults read too.

So those are my top five books for the Henkes beginner!  Thanks for reading and please stop by Desirous of Everything where I blog about books, writing my own stories and my own personal adventures too. I'd love to meet you!


  1. lovely, sarah! i'm going to have to get some henkes from the library for thommy asap. he loves to be read to and is finally past the book-eating stage of his development--so we can go to the library. :)

  2. I will never get sick of reading Julius and Chrysanthemum. Never!



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