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Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of 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, and Waiting won a Caldecott Honor and Geisel Honor in 2016. 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; 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. The award-winning, bestselling husband-and-wife team of Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek collaborated on last year's When Spring Comes, which received this starred review from School Library Journal:

Henkes and Dronzek once again perfectly capture the quiet wonder of the natural world, as they did in Birds and Oh! …Dronzek’s vivacious acrylic illustrations, their bright colors emphasized by the thick black outlines, complement Henkes’s spare but lyrical prose. A must-have, joyful seasonal title for the youngest listeners.

In the Middle of Fall, the companion book to When Spring Comes, will be available in September. Kevin Henkes has been published by Greenwillow Books since the release of his first book, All Alone, in 1981. 

 Q&A with Kevin Henkes

We caught up with Kevin for a few minutes and here are the things we learned about him during our Q&A.

Q1: What three things would we always find in your creative space/studio?

Kevin: Three things you’d always find in my studio: a good light, an electric pencil sharpener, notebooks.

Q2: When did you know that you wanted to be an illustrator?

Kevin: I’ve known my entire life that I wanted to be an artist. I was in high school when I wanted to be a writer.   

Q3: What authors have most inspired you?

Kevin: Some authors and illustrators who have inspired me are: Garth Williams, Ruth Krauss, and Jean Charlot.

Q4: Our festival theme this year is Twists & Turns. Which would you rather play, Twister or dominoes?

Kevin: I suppose I’d rather play Twister because I don’t know how to play dominoes.


Penny and her Marble
When Spring Comes
Kitten's First Full Moon
Lilly's Big Day
The Year of Billy Miller

Festival Testimonials

Loved the experiences in the ARTery, loved the presentations about the craft of writing and publishing. Gorgeous venues and well-done festival. Well-staffed, very nice venues. Will come again next year from Minnesota – well worth it.
I think I’m going to cry! (Steven Kellogg) was so nice, and he is a good drawer and writer. (2nd grade student)
This was awesome! Great glimpse into life of artist.