Usually towards the end of the year I have trouble picking a favorite picture book from that year. It’s this one! No, this one. Oh wait, that one too. That might sound familiar if you are a picture book person. It happens. But this year, without a twitch or a doubt or a no, but wait, it’s this one. It’s so perfect it hurts.
It’s one of those things that happens this time of year, which is why this book’s fall release feels like such a good decision. Tis the season, after all.
The cover, a window to the world beyond the sill where these five sit. It takes a real genius to smoosh so much emotion into one small dot of an eye and a pink dab for a cheek, but do you see that bunny? So much hope and wonder while he waits, right? Only Kevin Henkes.
The colors here are beautiful. A muted pastel palette brought together by the richest brown endpapers, a brown that’s the color of his line throughout. It all feels both lush and spare and inviting.
Each one had their thing, and each one was happy.
Their faces, looking on these gifts with such curiosity and tenderness. So much so that it feels like these figurines are entirely real. That’s what the lack of art in context does. The rest of the room falls away so that all of our eyes look out. Nothing else matters but the waiting and the friends.
The pacing is swift but sweet, and this moment is the height of some hushed anticipation. The owl’s reverence, the rabbit’s concern.
They were happy while they waited. They saw the things they loved.
This is the first time we’ve seen this rose dawn color through the window. A sign of something new.
And what was this dear cat waiting on? Something wonderful. Something surprising, spectacular, and incredible.
All of us are waiting on something. Here’s hoping you’ve got some room on your windowsill for friends.
PS: If you have a few minutes to spare, listen to this NPR piece about Waiting. It’s so nicely done and such a treat.