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Kitten's First Full Moon Hardcover – March 2, 2004

161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In this beautiful picture book, winner of the 2005 Caldecott Medal, Kevin Henkes, captures the sweet, sometimes slapstick struggle of Kitten, who sees her first full moon and thinks it's a bowl of milk in the sky.

Any child who has yearned for anything will understand how much Kitten wants that elusive bowl of milk. Readers will giggle as she tries to lick the faraway moon and gets a bug on her tongue, or leaps to catch it and falls down the stairs. In an effective refrain, the narrator repeats, "Still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting." The winning combination here is the simplicity and humor of the story, paired with gorgeous black-and-white illustrations with thick black lines (mirrored by the thick bold sans-serif font) and shades of grey that are as luminous as a moonlit night should be. Full-moon circles and ovals appear throughout the design: white circle full moons on the endpapers, elliptical flowers by the porch, white circles of firefly light, oval pads on Kitten's paws, and her big round eyes (especially when surprised and soaking wet). Children will love Kitten's quest and ensuing comedy of errors, but what they will love even more is that there's an actual bowl of milk waiting on the porch for Kitten. (Preschool) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-K-An irresistible offering from the multifaceted Henkes. The spare and suspense-filled story concerns a kitten that mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. When she opens her mouth to lick the treat, she ends up with a bug on her tongue. Next, she launches herself into the air, paws reaching out for the object of her desire, only to tumble down the stairs, "bumping her nose and banging her ear and pinching her tail. Poor Kitten." Again and again, the feline's persistent attempts to reach her goal lead to pain, frustration, and exhaustion. Repetitive phrases introduce each sequence of desire, action, and consequence, until the animal's instincts lead her home to a satisfying resolution. Done in a charcoal and cream-colored palette, the understated illustrations feature thick black outlines, pleasing curves, and swiftly changing expressions that are full of nuance. The rhythmic text and delightful artwork ensure storytime success. Kids will surely applaud this cat's irrepressible spirit. Pair this tale with Frank Asch's classic Moongame (S & S, 1987) and Nancy Elizabeth Wallace's The Sun, the Moon and the Stars (Houghton, 2003) for nocturnal celebrations.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 360L (What's this?)
  • Series: New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; First Edition edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060588284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060588281
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of close to fifty critically acclaimed and award-winning picture books, beginning readers, and novels. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon in 2005. Kevin Henkes is also the creator of a number of picture books featuring his mouse characters, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Lilly's Big Day and Wemberly Worried, the Caldecott Honor Book Owen, and the beloved Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. His most recent mouse character, Penny, was introduced in Penny and Her Song (2012); her story continued in Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble (a Geisel Honor Book). Bruce Handy, in a New York Times Book Review piece about A Good Day, wrote, "It should be said: Kevin Henkes is a genius." Kevin Henkes received two Newbery Honors for novels--one for his newest novel for young readers, The Year of Billy Miller, and the other for Olive's Ocean. Also among his fiction for older readers are the novels Junonia, Bird Lake Moon, The Birthday Room, and Sun & Spoon. He lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin. You can visit him online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 93 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I don't know how a person goes about making a black and white picture book appear to shimmer and shine, but somehow or other author Kevin Henkes does it. Having decided to conquer the world of cats as well as the world of mice (if this statement confuses you a single glimpse of "Lily's Purple Plastic Purse" should explain what I mean), Henkes has shifted his focus squarely on a small hungry kitten. Inviting child audiences to simultaneously pity and scoff (nicely) at its small mistaken heroine, the story is about a feline that tries to capture the moon, but is happy enough in the end with a simple bowl of milk.

Kitten, we take it, is not very old. In fact, for the first time ever she's experiencing her first full moon. Apparently no one thought to explain to Kitten exactly what a moon is and since her only frame of reference for a large round white thing is a bowl of milk, that's exactly what she mistakes the moon to be. What follows is a series of mild calamities as Kitten tries time and again to reach that tempting bowl of milk in the sky. Simply sticking her tongue out doesn't work. She gets fireflies stuck there. Leaping at the moon from the house's steps doesn't work. She just bumps her bum. Chasing the moon over hill and dale doesn't work. Kitten can't help but notice that she never gets closer. After other mistakes Kitten, dejected and more than a little soggy, returns home to find an inviting bowl of milk sitting on her home's steps just for her. Says the last line in the book, "Lucky Kitten".

The illustrations in this book are, in a word, luminous. Somehow Henkes has taken somewhat bland black and grey gouache and colored pencils and used them to give the impression of a world bathed in shimmering moonlight.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Vona G. Van Cleef on October 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a librarian, I bought "Kitten's First Full Moon" because it was the 2005 Caldecott winner. I have an 18-month-old grandson, however, and it's been a favorite of his since his first birthday and I was a bit surprised. So even though he's a little younger than the usual range for Caldecott books, I would recommend it for younger children as well. By the way, it's also on the Texas 2x2 list (2 years-2nd grade) from the Texas Library Assn. Vona Van Cleef, librarian/gramma
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Soaring Heart on June 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This cute story of a kitten thinking the full moon is a big bowl of milk and her wriggling, tumbling, chasing, climbing, and leaping after it reminds me of childhood imagination, curiousity, exploration and discovery. Kitten's First Full Moon has a fun underlying message of encouragement to go after our dreams! Usually children love colorfully illustrated books. Kitten's First Full Moon, done in black and white with variations of gray shades, grants it to stand out in memory as being different and enables it to receive greater attention, as it is a story that occurs at night. (So black and white makes sense.) The bold, thick black lettering on starch white paper makes it easy for a child to read with confidence. The sentences are of varying length and the story is written so that it keeps children turning pages to find out what the kitten will do next. The many changes of illustrations from one on a full page, to five long ones, to a two page spread with only one small picture on each and more, adds to the visual interest of KFFM. The Caldecott Medal Winner of 2005. Enjoy it!

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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Hi. During school some kids (including me) have been asked if we could be in a Caldecott reading group. In this reading group we have to read 25 of the books that were entered in the Caldecott award. At the end we were supposed to pick a book that we thought should win. My friends, Haleigh and Marissa were in a group with me. we decided to do an essay on the book Kittens First Full Moon. We did a little presantation in front of the reading class and we also shared our thoughts about the book. We even shared what we thought aboout the black and white pictures, few words and even te cute little Kitten. This reading class was fun and i hope that maybe next time (if there is a next time) you will choose the same book i did again. I had fun writing this paragraph. I really enjoy the book Kittens First Full Moon. Thank You.

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tim Janson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kitten's first Full Moon is certain to become a new classic for the K and pre-K kid set. A departure from other children's books in that it doesn't rely on eye-jolting color's to catch your childs eye but rather it is drawn superbly in white, black, and shades of gray. Despite the lack of color, I found my two year old enjoying it very much and he was extremely attentive.

The book tells the story of a little kitten who sees a full moon for the first time in his life. She thinks it's a bowl full of milk and with humor and a lot of charm, proceeeds to try and get to that bowl by jumping, climbing a tree, etc. All very delightful. Just a great new kids book that I'm sure will be on bookshelfs for a long, long time!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By waldorf_curric VINE VOICE on August 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is another book (like Fledgling, previously reviewed) which isn't obviously charming when glanced through but comes into its own in the read-aloud. It gained a lot of attention for its illustrations but I think the story line is even better. The simple text is charming and perfect. You can't help but hold your breath as you follow along with Kitten's ups and downs, trying valiantly to reach that "little bowl of milk, just waiting" in the sky. And, of course, the happy ending with its fairy tale quality... who can help but believe that those who truly deserve it find their happiness in good time. Buy this book for the science of it (full moon, reflections) or for the fun of it, but don't hold back. I give it a million gold stars.
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