Meet Kevin Henkes Kevin Henkes, born in 1960, is one of the rare examples of someone who decides to be a children’s book author and illustrator at an early age and does just that. Many other writers and illustrators set their minds on something else at the beginning of their career.
When he was a child Kevin Henkes spent a lot of time in libraries, he was fascinated by the art and illustrations in books. When he started to read chapter books, he would deliberately find editions with illustrations by illustrators he liked. He published his first book in 1981 when he was just 21 and has now been writing and publishing children's books for more than 30 years.
Many of his best known books feature mice characters. The main reason these characters are so loved and remembered is that they capture a genuine sense of children’s feelings, whether it is the anxiety of starting something new or going out into the world, the need to be alone sometimes or the need to be accepted by one’s peers. Readers, old and young, can easily relate to these feelings.
Kevin Henkes once explained the reason that he likes animal characters is because “There are certain things I can do with animals that I can't do with children and get away with it.” One example he gives occurs in Julius, The Baby of the World (1990), where jealous big sister Lilly pinches baby Julius's tail. Also, he points out, a mouse can show its exuberance by jumping three feet off the ground, whereas a realistically drawn human is considerably more earthbound. Reference
Whilst Kevin Henkes’ picture books receive much praise and applaud, many people over look his chapter books and novels and are unaware that a few of them are Newberry Honor winners. Without doubt, they are stories filled with heart, smarts and love. The titles below are available in EMS Libraries.
The Year of Billy Miller
The Birthday Room
Sun & Spoon
Words of Stone
More about Kevin Henkes!
A video in which Kevin Henkes shows us his childhood drawings and paintings, talks about creating such memorable characters as Lilly and Owen, and demonstrates his illustration process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1svvJgo9LJg