2005 Caldecott Winner -
Kitten's First Full Moon
by Kevin Henkes

This Caldecott Winner will spark kids' imagination with its story of adventure and black & white illustrations!   Kitten thinks the moon is a  bowl of milk in the sky, but can't figure out how to reach it!

This fun read aloud touches on perception and imagination along with a great lesson on perseverance!

It begins...

It was Kitten's first full moon.

When she saw it, she thought,

There's a little bowl of milk in the sky.

And she wanted it.

Picture Book for Kids Summary

Kitten sees her first full moon and thinks it's a bowl of milk in the sky. First she tries to stretch her neck and lick it, then she tries to jump to it, finally she tries to climb a tree to reach it.

At each interval, kitten not only misses getting the milk, other things happen along the way that are not fun at all like a bug in her mouth and falling down the steps.

And when she sees the moon's reflection in the pond, things get worse before getting better!

What I love about this Caldecott Winner:

  • The black & white illustrations give the feel of night time and are simple for young children to identify objects.
  • Kitten works hard to get what she wants!
  • It sparks imagination for seeing things as something different such as the moon being a bowl of milk.
  • It highlights event sequencing in the illustrations and text.

How to Make the Most of the Read
(These are not meant to be done all at once though.)

Intellectual development 

  1. Circle tracing:  Since the illustrations are simple, have the child trace any circles they see such as the full moon, flowers, kitten's wide eyes, and the moon's reflection.
  2. Word connections:  The phrase "Poor Kitten!" is repeated often.  Point to these and allow kids to voice them.
  3. Practice Counting:  The illustrations of the bugs, flowers and even the sequencing pictures would be fun to count.
  4. Perception:  Find other objects like clouds, fabric patterns, leaves, etc. and think of what else they look like.  Discuss how things look different far away than they do close up.
  5. Sequencing:  Several pages of illustration as well as the text include sequencing of events.  Let the child point to the matching picture as you read the phrases.  Have them retell the sequence of events from the story - first, then, then, and finally.
  6. Prediction:  When kitten is in the tree and sees "another bowl of milk" in the pond.  Ask children what they think she is about to de!
  7. Synonyms:  Pause and think of synonyms for words such as little, wanted, sprang, tumbled, raced, etc. 

Emotional development

  1. "Keep trying" is an important lesson from this Caldecott Winner.  It's easy to give in to discouragement.  This books teaches "When at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"  Sometimes kids just need to be reminded to believe in themselves.
  2. Kitten exhibits several feelings in this book.  Take time to talk about each.  She is scared when she is high in the tree; ask what makes them afraid. Later she is sad; talk about things that make us sad.  It's okay to have feelings and share them.

Physical development

  1. Get Active! - Read this Caldecott Winner through again and allow kids to "be" kitten. Have them do what kitten does as you read such as stretch their neck, wiggle their bottom & jump, pretending to chase or run and climb.  This will not only get them active, but also make them aware of movement and balance.
  2. Drawing - Drawing is great for eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills!  Give your child a piece of white paper and a black crayon to recreate pictures from the book.  Have them draw circles like the moon or even try drawing kitten.  Place a thin sheet over the book illustration and have them trace kitten.

Spiritual development

The Bible talks a lot about perseverance and not giving up.  Kitten worked hard trying her best, and as she did, she kept her eye on the goal.  Here are some Bible verses that encourage us to do the same while remembering God is faithful!

Hebrews 12:1-2 - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

James 1:2-4 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Hebrews 10:36 - "For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised."

Philippians 3:13 - "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Hebrews 10:23 - "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."

Kevin Henkes reading his Caldecott Winner: 

* A Caldecott Winner is chosen because of its illustrations.