Kevin Henkes

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Kevin Henkes
Kevin Henkes.jpg
Henkes at the Mazza Museum, 2011
Born (1960-11-27) November 27, 1960 (age 57)
Racine, Wisconsin, USA
Occupation Illustrator, writer
Nationality American
Period 1981–present
Genre Children's picture books
Notable works Kitten's First Full Moon
Notable awards Caldecott Medal

Kevin Henkes (born November 27, 1960) is an American writer and illustrator of children's books. As an illustrator he won the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon (2004). Two of his books were Newbery Medal Honor Books, Olive's Ocean in 2004 and The Year of Billy Miller in 2014.[1] His picture book Waiting was named both a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book and a Geisel Honor Book. It was only the second time any author has won that combination of awards.[2]


Kevin Henkes (pronounced HANK-us) thought he would be an artist until his junior year of high school, when one of his teachers encouraged him in his writing efforts. He discovered that children's books combined both his literary and artistic interests.

Henkes writes and illustrates children's picture books, many of which feature mice as their main characters. He also writes middle-grade fiction. Henkes wrote his first book during his freshman year in college. The book's theme deals with how a child describes the pleasures of occasional solitude. This theme is common in many of Henkes' later books. Henkes, one of five children, says that many of his storylines are inspired by his family and the neighborhood where he grew up in Racine, Wisconsin.

Henkes' first book, All Alone, was published in 1981 by Greenwillow Books. More than 30 books followed, including Chrysanthemum and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. In 1994 Henkes was a runner-up for one of the premier American Library Association children's book awards, the Caldecott Medal for Owen, one of his mouse books. In 2004, he was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal for Olive's Ocean. The next year he won the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon, recognizing that as the year's best children's picture book published in the U.S. All of his books to date have been published by Greenwillow Books.

Henkes won the inaugural Phoenix Picture Book Award in 2013 for Owen. The Phoenix Awards from the Children's Literature Association recognize the best books that did not win major awards when they were first published twenty years earlier.[3][4] In 2014, he received a Newbery Honor for his book, The Year of Billy Miller.[5]

Henkes and his wife, Laura Dronzek, have been collaborating on a series of picture books based on the four seasons. Henkes writes the story, while Dronzek provides the acrylic painting illustrations. The next title expected is Winter is Here.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Henkes was born in Racine, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives in Madison with his wife, artist Laura Dronzek, and their two children.[citation needed]


  • All Alone (1981)
  • Clean Enough (1982)
  • Return to Sender (1984)
  • Bailey Goes Camping (1985)
  • Grandpa & Bo (1986) — Council of Wisconsin Writers Picture Book Award
  • Once Around the Block (1987) — Library of Congress Best Books of the Year
  • Two Under Par (1987)
  • The Zebra Wall (1988)
  • Jessica (1989)
  • Shhhh (1989)
  • Words of Stone (1992)
  • The Biggest Boy (1995)
  • Good-bye, Curtis (1995)
  • Sun & Spoon (1997)
  • Circle Dogs (1998) — Charlotte Zolotow Award: Highly Commended 1999
  • The Birthday Room (1999)
  • Oh! (2000)
  • Olive's Ocean (2004) — Newbery Honor Book
  • Kitten's First Full Moon (2004) — Caldecott Medal
  • A Good Day (2007)
  • Bird Lake Moon (2008)
  • Birds (2009)
  • Old Bear (2009)
  • My Garden (2010)
  • Little White Rabbit (2011)
  • Junonia (2011)
  • The Year of Billy Miller (2013) — Newbery Honor Book
  • Waiting (2015) — Caldecott Honor
  • When Spring Comes (2016)
  • Egg (2017)
  • In the Middle of Fall (2017)

Mouse books[edit]


  1. ^ Handy, Bruce (May 13, 2007). "Getting Better All the Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  2. ^ Worland, Gayle (12 January 2016). "New Caldecott honor a historic win for Madison author Kevin Henkes". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Phoenix Picture Book Award". Children's Literature Association. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  4. ^ "Children's Literature Association 2013 Phoenix Award panel". Call for Papers, 40th Annual Children's Literature Association Conference, University of Southern Mississippi, Biloxi, Mississippi, June 13–15, 2013. Call for Papers ( Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  5. ^ And the Newbery, Caldecott award winners are..., Ashley Strickland, CNN, January 27, 2014
  6. ^ Kolker, Jeanne (September 4, 2017). "With autumn comes latest Henkes-Dronzek collaboration". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved March 26, 2018. 

External links[edit]