Kevin Henkes never wanted to be anything other than an author and illustrator. In high school a public librarian introduced him to Barbara Bader's "American Picturebooks from Noah's Ark to The Beast Within," which emboldened him.
"It was the first serious book about picture books, written for adults, that I ever read," said Henkes.
The summer after his first year in college Henkes traveled to New York with a list of his favorite publishers in hand. His first stop was Greenwillow Books, headed at the time by its founder Susan Hirschman, who signed him up on the spot. Henkes took the fall semester off from school to work on a dummy book that became his first published book "All Alone" in 1981.
Photo by SHANNEN HAYES
Nine-year-old Daniel Park has a copy of his favorite book signed by the author, Kevin Henkes, at MacIntosh Books & Paper.
Five years later Henkes created a group of little mice that became widely popular in 13 of his children's books, including the 1994 Caldecott Honor Book "Owen" and the famous "Lily's Purple Plastic Purse" released in 1996. With the introduction of Lily, Henkes became a star by firmly establishing himself as an outstanding contributor to the canon of children's literature.
"Lily's personality lends itself to the story," said Henkes of the character's popularity. "I use animals to help develop humor in my books."
In 2004 his novel "Olive's Ocean" was awarded the Newberry Honor. A year later "Kitten's First Full Moon" won the Caldecott Medal. "Junonia," a book based on Henkes' childhood winters on Sanibel, was published in June 2011, while his latest book "Penny and Her Song" was published in February. Henkes has two more books "Penny and Her Doll" and "Penny and Her Marble" due to be on sale in August and 2013 respectively.
"I think one dreams of it," Henkes said of winning the Newberry Honor and Caldecott Medal. "It was very exciting the icing on the cake."
Henkes was signing books at MacIntosh Books & Paper, where his books are on sale.
"It's amazing to have him here helping support small bookstores," said MacIntosh Book advocate Rebecca Binkowski, whose family loves Henkes "Owen's Marshmallow Chick."
To learn more about Henkes and his books, visit www.kevinhenkes.com.