If you have young children, odds are you have at least one Kevin Henkes book in your home. This Wisconsin native has written and illustrated over 30 books and been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature, including a Newbery and a Caldecott Medal.
I have been lucky enough to meet Mr. Henkes on several occasions -- the first, at a Literacy Network of Dane County fundraiser where he shared with me (among other things) that he grew up with a sibling who has food allergies! Sadly for us, this has not yet been a topic of inspiration for his writing, but so many other wonderful things have. Imagination, forgiveness, and optimism are just a few themes that all seem to have a common thread throughout many of his books.
The second time I saw Mr. Henkes was at the recent AEYC Chicago conference where he spoke a lot about perspective. He shared many humorous stories about the perspective of children, and their literal translations of various books, versus the figurative intentions of their authors. He also spoke about individual perspectives, and read two very opposing letters he received about his book, Julius Baby of the World.
The first letter was a glowing review, highly revered and lovingly written. The second letter, well…. Let’s just say it was the exact opposite. It was an interesting comparison, considering the fact they both were in regards to the same exact book!
I found his presentation to be a thoughtful and gentle reminder that, as we all know, not everyone shares the same perspective. This is a hard pill to swallow sometimes when you are a food allergy parent, and what seem so obvious to us (about the health and safety of our children), isn’t always clear to others.
Sometimes all it takes is a little kindness and understanding of each other's points of view. Sometimes, that’s not enough. Either way, I’m thankful to Kevin Henkes for reminding me that everyone’s opinion has validity, even though we may not always agree.
Check out Kevin's new book Penny and Her Marble just released this month!