Kitten's First Full Moon Hardcover – Mar 2 2004
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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.
Any child who has yearned for anything will understand how much Kitten wants that elusive bowl of milk. Readers will giggle as she tries to lick the faraway moon and gets a bug on her tongue, or leaps to catch it and falls down the stairs. In an effective refrain, the narrator repeats, "Still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting." The winning combination here is the simplicity and humor of the story, paired with gorgeous black-and-white illustrations with thick black lines (mirrored by the thick bold sans-serif font) and shades of grey that are as luminous as a moonlit night should be. Full-moon circles and ovals appear throughout the design: white circle full moons on the endpapers, elliptical flowers by the porch, white circles of firefly light, oval pads on Kitten's paws, and her big round eyes (especially when surprised and soaking wet). Children will love Kitten's quest and ensuing comedy of errors, but what they will love even more is that there's an actual bowl of milk waiting on the porch for Kitten. (Preschool) --Karin Snelson
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-K-An irresistible offering from the multifaceted Henkes. The spare and suspense-filled story concerns a kitten that mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. When she opens her mouth to lick the treat, she ends up with a bug on her tongue. Next, she launches herself into the air, paws reaching out for the object of her desire, only to tumble down the stairs, "bumping her nose and banging her ear and pinching her tail. Poor Kitten." Again and again, the feline's persistent attempts to reach her goal lead to pain, frustration, and exhaustion. Repetitive phrases introduce each sequence of desire, action, and consequence, until the animal's instincts lead her home to a satisfying resolution. 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. Pair this tale with Frank Asch's classic Moongame (S & S, 1987) and Nancy Elizabeth Wallace's The Sun, the Moon and the Stars (Houghton, 2003) for nocturnal celebrations.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Kitten, we take it, is not very old. In fact, for the first time ever she's experiencing her first full moon. Apparently no one thought to explain to Kitten exactly what a moon is and since her only frame of reference for a large round white thing is a bowl of milk, that's exactly what she mistakes the moon to be. What follows is a series of mild calamities as Kitten tries time and again to reach that tempting bowl of milk in the sky. Simply sticking her tongue out doesn't work. She gets fireflies stuck there. Leaping at the moon from the house's steps doesn't work. She just bumps her bum. Chasing the moon over hill and dale doesn't work. Kitten can't help but notice that she never gets closer. After other mistakes Kitten, dejected and more than a little soggy, returns home to find an inviting bowl of milk sitting on her home's steps just for her. Says the last line in the book, "Lucky Kitten".
The illustrations in this book are, in a word, luminous. Somehow Henkes has taken somewhat bland black and grey gouache and colored pencils and used them to give the impression of a world bathed in shimmering moonlight. Kitten herself is a lovely innocent little creature. There are some truly amusing moments when she finds that she's just been tricked in some way. In times like these her mouth pretty much disappears and her eyes become wide, staring straight at the reader. It's a brilliant comic effect, and it keeps you rooting for Kitten. If there's anything to beware of in this book it may be your children over identifying with the little cat. I know that I, for one, felt awful for her when she found herself floating in a pond (she saw the reflection of the moon in the pond and thought... well, you know) and, "was wet and sad and tired and hungry". Fortunately Kitten's happy ending is just a few pages away, so kids won't have much time to dwell on the unhappy heroine's predicament.
The book is not too unlike one of my favorite picture books from childhood. Like, "The Patchwork Cat" by Nicola Bayley & William Mayne, this book is about a cat attempting to find and recover the thing she loves best. The two books would pair brilliantly together for any storytime. Henkes has redirected his storylines from rodents to cats so well that I suspect his fans won't be clamoring for any more mousie tales for quite some time. If you'd like a picture book that is as beautiful as it is misleadingly simple, "Kitten's First Full Moon" is your best bet. Perhaps the most beautiful black and white picture book on the market today.
The book tells the story of a little kitten who sees a full moon for the first time in his life. She thinks it's a bowl full of milk and with humor and a lot of charm, proceeeds to try and get to that bowl by jumping, climbing a tree, etc. All very delightful. Just a great new kids book that I'm sure will be on bookshelfs for a long, long time!
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