Kevin Henkes- Author Study & Focus Lesson by: Lindsay Prodorutti

Author Study

Kevin Henkes

Author and Illustrator

kevin-henkes

Photo by Laura Dronzek

About the Author

Kevin Henkes is a famous American author and illustrator. He is well known for his work in children’s literature. Henkes was born on November 27, 1960 in Racine, Wisconsin. As a child, he enjoyed visiting his local art museum, taking trips to the library, drawing and painting. His dream as a child was to become an artist. During his high school career, he was introduced to Barbara Bader’s American Picture Book from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within. This adult picture book inspired him to begin writing. He soon started to combine his writing with his artistic talent. After high school, Kevin Henkes attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His decision to attend the University was because of the School of Education’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center. The summer after his freshman year, Henkes left Wisconsin to head to New York with his writing portfolio to pursue his new dream of becoming an author. Susan Hirschman, founder of Greenwillow Books, had the pleasure of being Henkes first and only destination. Hirschman saw potential in Henkes work, “It was the work of a young man, but it was the work of someone who knew what he was doing and where he wanted to go (Hirshchman, 2005, p. 403). After taking the next semester off, Henkes published his first picture book, All Alone written in 1981. Henkes was only nineteen years old. This was just the beginning of his incredible career as an author and illustrator.

Kevin Henkes began writing picture books about real people through a child’s viewpoint. Later he started experimenting with animals and realized this would open his world of possibilities. Henkes is well known for his mice characters and illustrations. A Weekend with Wendell is the first book where the reader is introduced to his mouse character. This book was followed by additional mice stories where the reader is introduced to characters such as Chrysanthemum, Lily and Owen. Kevin Henkes has also published novels geared toward upper elementary and middle school aged children. His stories teach readers helpful lessons about friendship, family, trustworthiness and uniqueness. Readers can relate to the challenging dramas described in his stories and creative cartoon-like illustrations. Henkes has received several awards for his distinguished work in literature; Caldecott Medal, John Newbery Medal of Honor Books, Caldecott Honor Book and Regina Medal. Kevin Henkes currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin where he continues to write, draw and paint in his home studio. He is surrounded by his favorite picture books and illustrations to inspire him to continue his career.

List of Books: HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books)

A Weekend with Wendell (1986)

Sheila Rae, the Brave (1987)

Chester’s Way (1988)

Jessica (1989)

Julius, the Baby of the World (1990)

Chrysanthemum (1991)

Owen (1993)

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (1996)

Wemberly Worried (2000)

Lilly’s Big Day (2006)

Kevin Henkes: Literary Moves/Strategies

  1. Rapid Repetition (The characters throughout the story repeat and use the same sayings throughout the book)
  • A Weekend With Wendell (1986)
    • “Time to go!” said Sophie’s mother.

                   “Time to go!” said Sophie’s father.

                    “Already?” said Wendell.

                    “Already?” said Sophie.

  • Chrysanthemum (1991)
    • “Welcome home!” said her mother.

                   “Welcome home!” said her father.

  • Julius, the Baby of the World (1990)
    • “Julius is the baby of the world,” chimed Lilly’s parents.

                    “Disgusting,” said Lilly. (Repeated on pages 3, 11, 21)

  • “Julius isn’t going anywhere,” said Lilly’s mother. And he didn’t. He stayed and stayed and stayed. (Repeated on page 4 & 5)

Example of Rapid Repetition:

Poetry- Bubbles

Bubbles

High

Bubbles

Low

Bubbles

Big

Bubbles

Small

Bubbles

Pop!

Good-Bye Bubbles

  1. Beautifully Bold (The author may change font size, bold/underline/italic words)
  • Chrysanthemum (1991)
    • “Chrysanthemum grew and grew and grew.”
  • Julius, the Baby of the World (1990)
    • “JULIUS, THE GERM OF THE WORLD. BY ME,” said Lilly.
  • Jessica (1989)
    • There is no Jessica,” said Ruthie’s parents.
  • Chester’s Way (1988)
    • You have a Muscle Mouse cup?!” said Lilly
    • You have a night light?!” said Chester
    • “LILLY had her own way of doing things…”
  • Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (1996)
    • “Because I’m really, really, really, really,

                                                 really, really, really,

                                                                           really, really,

                                                                                             really sorry.”

Example of Beautifully Bold: One sunny summer afternoon, I took a trip to New York City with my Mom. We started the day by driving to the train station. When we got to the train station the parking lot was filled! We had to get directions to drive to a different train station that was close by. My palms were SO sweaty. I was so nervous we weren’t going to be able to get on the train…

  1. Purposeful Dialogue (Adding dialogue in illustrations rather than in text)
  • Owen (1993)

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.47.40 PM

  • Chester’s Way (1988)

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.47.47 PM

  • Jessica (1989)

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.47.53 PM

Example of Purposeful Dialogue:

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.47.58 PM

4) Fancy Feelings

(Fancy Feelings is a way an author expresses how a character is feeling in a fancy descriptive method rather than stating their feelings. The author creates a movie like picture for readers to understand how a character is feeling and allows the reader to connect with characters) (Calkins & Bleichman, 2003)

  • Chrysanthemum (1991)
    • “On the first day, Chrysanthemum wore her sunniest dress and her brightest smile. She ran all the way. “Hooray!” said Chrysanthemum. “School!”
      • Chrysanthemum was happy/excited for the first day of school. Kevin Henkes showed us this by stating she had the brightest smile, she was running, and yelling hooray!

Example:

Tell: Tara was happy, she got her dream job.

Show: An enormous smile came across Tara’s face. It was as big as the moon. Tara couldn’t stop jumping up and down. She was excited to share the amazing news with her family and friends. This is the job she had always dreamed of getting since she was a little girl.

References

Calkins, L., & Bleichman, P. (2003). The craft of revision. Portsmouth, NH: FirstHand.

Hirschman, S. (2005, July). Kevin Henkes- Twenty-five Years. Horn Book Magazine,

403-406.

Stan, S. (1991, Nov. & dec.). Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators: Kevin Henkes. The

Five Owls.

Welcome to the official Kevin Henkes website! (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2017,

from http://www.kevinhenkes.com/

 

 

Focus Mini-Lesson: Kevin Henkes

Grade: 3rd-4th

By: Lindsay Prodorutti 

Introduction/Hook

  • Read: Chrysanthemum By: Kevin Henkes
    • “On the first day, Chrysanthemum wore her sunniest dress and her brightest smile. She ran all the way. “Hooray!” said Chrysanthemum. “School!”
      • How do you think Chrysanthemum was feeling on the first day of school? What clues from the text helped you decide how she is feeling?
    • Author, Kevin Henkes, demonstrated to the reader how a character in the story, Chrysnathemum, was feeling about the first day of school.

Teaching Point

  • “Writers, today we will learn how to incorporate a new writing technique in our writing pieces called Fancy Feelings
  • Fancy Feelings is a way an author can express how a character is feeling in a fancy descriptive method rather than stating how the character is feeling. The author creates a movie like picture for readers to understand character emotions. This allows the reader to make text-to-self connections with characters in various stories. (Calkins & Bleichman, 2003)

Demonstration:

  • Show students examples of this crafting technique in other texts:
    • Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse By: Kevin Henkes
      • “Lilly’s stomach lurched. She felt like crying. She felt simply awful.”
      • Kevin Henkes uses specific examples to illustrate that Lilly was feeling sad.
    • Julius, The Baby of the World By: Kevin Henkes
      • “Lilly’s nose twitched. Her eyes narrowed. Her fur stood on end. And her tail quivered.”
      • Kevin Henkes uses examples to illustrate that Lilly was feeling angry.
    • Personal Example: I was writing a story about a character named Tara and how she received her dream job. Look at the way I incorporated the Fancy Feelings technique in my story to illustrate how Tara reacted.
      • An enormous smile came across Tara’s face. It was as big as the moon. Tara couldn’t stop jumping up and down. She was excited to share the amazing news with her family and friends. This is the job she had always dreamed of getting since she was a little girl.

Guided Practice

  • As a class, brainstorm different emotions individuals could feel:
    • Create an emotion chart displaying these different emotions (tired, sad, happy, excited, nervous, etc.)
    • Allow time for students to turn-and-talk to their neighbor and brainstorm what they experience when they display some of these emotions.
      • Examples:
        • Nervous (sweaty palms, pacing, crossed arms, belly ache, biting nails, twirling hair)
        • Tired (yawning, sleepy eyes, cranky, stretching)
      • Whole Class Discussion: Have students share ideas they generated with their partner to add to the classroom emotion chart.
    • Student Example: Boys and girls, the other day when I was conferencing with Ryan he shared a story he wrote about a soccer game. In his story, he wrote about a character named Nicholas who was very upset that his team lost.
      • How can Ryan incorporate the Fancy Feelings writing technique in his story to illustrate how Nicholas was feeling?
        • Allow time for students to generate suggestions to share with Ryan.

Link

  • Writers, today while you are working on your writing pieces practice using Fancy Feelings in your stories. Writers can develop a fancy way to display how characters in their stories are feeling. Give the reader a movie like picture of exactly what the character was feeling in that specific moment. Use the emotion chart we created as a class to help you generate ideas. Don’t forget to revisit your previous writing to see if you can incorporate this new strategy. Happy Writing!
  • Student Writing Time (20-30 minutes)
  • Whole Class Sharing Time (5-10 minutes)
    • Pick 3 students to share how they incorporated this craft in their writing pieces.

 

References

Calkins, L., & Bleichman, P. (2003). The craft of revision. Portsmouth, NH: FirstHand.

Henkes, K. (1990). Julius, the baby of the world. New York: Greenwillow Books.

Henkes, K. (1991). Chrysanthemum. New York: Greenwillow Books.

Henkes, K. (1996). Lilly’s purple plastic purse. New York: Greenwillow Books.

 

 

 

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