Kevin Henkes!

Sunday, February 5, 2017


      My whole family met Kevin Henkes this week!

     I taught 2nd grade for many years, and the books of Kevin Henkes were practically required reading each year.  His books taught my students (and myself) some very important character lessons through stories about cute little mice that always tugged at the heartstrings.  Now, as a coach, I still recommend books like Chrysanthemum and Wemberly Worried to classes every year.  I am also a mom of a 1st and 2nd grader, so his books are also studied by my own kids at school.

     Last week, I came home with a ticket to be #15 in line at Anderson's to get autographs in Egg, Kevin Henke's newest title.  I came home and told my son, and he was very excited.  He started naming his other books, and then asked, "Mom, why do you think he likes mice so much?"  

     The night before the book signing, I read Egg with my daughter.  She, in fact, read it to me.  She is coming into her own confidence as a reader, and this was a first for her.  The next day, when she got to hear the very same book read aloud by the author himself, I had a little tear in my eye.  

     Kevin Henkes read Egg and Waiting, and talked about his process for drafting a new book.  He showed us his initial sketches on paper, and how he makes "dummy" books first.  He talked about how he tries different mediums for his artwork, like pencil or watercolors, and how he sometimes uses shading and black sharpie.   My son actually blurted out, "That's good art work" to which Kevin Henkes politely said, "Thank you" before continuing on.  #love

     When talking about writing, he said that he often writes in his head. not just in his studio.  He says he gets ideas for writing everywhere, and he keeps a notebook for ideas.  His idea for Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse came in an airport while watching a girl (who has no idea Lilly was inspired by her) playing with a musical purple purse.  He said to keep your ears and eyes open, because stories are everywhere.  
No matter who you are, or where you live, you can be a writer.  We all have stories to tell.   -Kevin Henkes 

That's my son's hand in the air,
with his many questions for Kevin Henkes.
     He illustrates almost all of his books, except for a few that his wife illustrated and a few that he wrote while writing novels.   My son asked why he used shading a lot, which was great for him to ask as he loves to draw and sketch himself.  Kevin Henkes later said that he draws nearly every day, and when you do something almost every day for many years, you are bound to get better at it.  What a great message for the kids and adults alike in the audience!  Growth mindset in action.  :)

     I was so happy that my kids got to meet Kevin Henkes in person.  His books are full of heart and honest emotion, and it is clear that he as a person is just as kind and sensitive as his characters.   I told him that I have been an educator for 18 years, and every year I have used his books to teach students. Just imagine how that must feel, to be an author whose words shape the lives of that many children. The world we live in is also shaped by the books we read.  At a time like the present, I am extremely grateful for books like those of Kevin Henkes.