Waiting by Kevin Henkes is a nominee for the Buckeye Children’s & Teen Book Award in the K-2 category.
From the Cover
Look at the owl and the pig and the bear and the puppy and the rabbit. What do you think they’re waiting for? Something wonderful? A visitor? A surprise? Maybe they’re waiting for you!
Five figures on the windowsill are waiting. The owl waits for the moon, the pig with the umbrella waits for the rain, the bear with a kite waits for the wind, the puppy on the sled waits for the snow, and the rabbit just enjoys looking out the window and waiting. Some characters wait longer than others. Some characters leave and return. An elephant appears but leaves when it falls and breaks. The scenes outside the window are beautiful. One day a cat appears and she was waiting for something new. Then there were ten on the windowsill waiting!
I enjoy most of the art. The scenes outside the window are some of the best in the book, and it utilizes white space really well. I like that it is a quiet book, and not very busy.
I am a bit confused by the choice of characters, Are they supposed to be toys or figures? The rabbit makes me think they are supposed to be toys, but either way I don’t think these are good choices for either.
One page is devoted to the line, “Sometimes one or the other of them went away, but he or she always came back.” What a mouthful! I understand one wants to use proper grammar in a children’s book but this line stuck out to me like a sore thumb. It is hard to say in that sing-song voice and I wish we could use more gender-neutral language. In a world of living toys do we really have to stick with the he/she gender binary?
And this is why I shouldn’t write book reviews. That bunny totally looks like an adult toy. The pregnant matryoshka doll is also unsettling because it looks like the kittens are giving birth to more kittens. I wish the cat figure had just given birth to some different-sized, non-opening kittens.
I know there is sort of a cult of Henkes, so it is unpopular to not like a Henkes book but I didn’t think this one was anything special. That being said, the one I borrowed from the library is covered in sticky fingerprints, so someone out there is a fan, if not me.