Books Are Pretty

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Kitten's First Full Moon

A lot of literary-minded people believe that celebrities need to knock it off with all the children's book publishing they're doing. It's not as easy as it looks, they say. Children's books are a lot like poetry - the sparing use of words necessitates each one being carefully chosen, and most celebrities don't have the discipline to make it work. For every Jamie Lee Curtis, there's at least three that need to just cut it right out, they say.

Nobody else really has an opinion about this. A book is something you use to lull your kids to sleep at night, and since most of them are paper versions of what they saw on Disney anyway, what difference does it make?

Once you've been introduced to the likes of an author like Kevin Henkes, however, you'll see what the difference is. Henkes, author of Christopher's new book Kitten's First Full Moon, has been quietly turning out charming, sweet-natured, clever children's books for years (among them the superb Owen's Fuzzy Yellow Blanket and Wemberly Worried) and all without donning a single conical shaped bra.

Winner of 2004's Caldecott Medal, Kitten's First Full Moon tells the story of a kitten who thinks the full moon in the sky is a saucer of milk, and tries everything she can think of to reach it, with disasterous yet comical results.

The black-and-white illustrations capture perfectly the sense of quiet nighttime, and bears a strong resemblence to the thickly-outlined drawings in the first Caldecott winner, Herbert the Lion.

Of course, the true critic is Christopher himself, who was inspired by the kitten's quest to shout, "I want milk toooo! I want milk tooooooo!!!!"

Which I suppose either means the book is good, or is sending subliminal messages from the USDA.

Kitten's First Full Moon is appropriate for ages 2-5.

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