The Biggest Boy

Overview

Billy is a big boy who can do all sorts of things by himself. And when his parents tell him he is growing bigger every day, he starts to imagine what it would be like to be the biggest boy in the world.

Billy and his parents discuss how big he is getting.

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Overview

Billy is a big boy who can do all sorts of things by himself. And when his parents tell him he is growing bigger every day, he starts to imagine what it would be like to be the biggest boy in the world.

Billy and his parents discuss how big he is getting.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jessica, a friend only Ruthie can see, follows Ruthie to school on the first day of kindergarten. "Henkes never falters as he outlines the logic and reasoning behind Ruthie's affection for her invisible playmate," said PW. Ages 5-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Judy Katsh
Two master storytellers work their magic in this fanciful tale aimed at taking the potential "sting" out of growing up. Billy and his parents imagine together what feats he could perform if he grew to be The Biggest Boy in the world. After having their fun, the family concludes that the real Billy's size is perfect for now. The pretend sequence may not work for all youngsters or their adult reading partners, but the next-to-the last scene of Billy in bed is worth the price of the trip.
School Library Journal
PreS-KBilly, who is growing and gaining in competence, wonders what it would be like to be the biggest boy in the world. Together he and his parents laughingly imagine him as big as a house, able to move the clouds by blowing on them, to wear a rainbow like a necklace, to toss the sun like a ball, and so on. "`But right now' says his mother, `you are just the right size for a big boy your age.'" The good-night ritual in this intimate portrait concludes with Billy tucked into his cozy bed. The child looks out his window and holds up his hand, seemingly holding a marble-sized moon between his thumb and forefinger, confirming in his mind that he really is the biggest boy. While the text does not possess Henkes's trademark wit, its language is good humored and pleasing. The repetitive rhythm and pattern make it an excellent read-aloud. Tafuri's idealized, flat style is recognizable. Her strong, assured line reinforces the safety and stability of Billy's world. Unsaturated blue is the predominating color, lending an atmosphere of serene sheltered tenderness. Billy's world is clean, uncluttered, and idyllic. He has loving parents who have time to spend with him, his toys are educational and tidy. It is a disappointing omission that in an otherwise nurturing family, there is no sign of a book, not one story in the bedtime routine. Otherwise, this is a gentle and reassuring selection.Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688158415
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 MULBERRY
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 817,259
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 400L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the author of Junonia, Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Book Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers Little White Rabbit, My Garden, Old Bear, A Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, including the Penny books for beginning readers, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Nancy Tafuri's acclaimed picture books for the youngest child include the Caldecott Honor Book Have You Seen My Duckling?; Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails; I love you, Little One; and In the Snow, written by Sharon Phillips Denslow. She lives with her family in Roxbury, Connecticut.

Biography

Kevin Henkes still owns some of his favorite books from childhood. "They're brimming with all the telltale signs of true love: dog-eared pages, fingerprints on my favorite illustrations, my name and address inscribed on both front and back covers in inch-high lettering, and the faint smell of stale peanut butter on the bindings," he says in an interview on his web site.

Back in his peanut-butter sandwich days, Henkes dreamed of becoming an artist. By high school, he had combined his love of drawing with a newfound interest in writing, and at age 19, he took his portfolio to New York City in hopes of finding a publisher. Young Henkes returned home from his weeklong trip with a contract from Greenwillow Books, and he's worked as a children's writer and illustrator ever since.

Henkes's style has evolved over the years to include more humor, more whimsy and a lot more mice. Though he began illustrating his picture books with realistic drawings of children, he's since developed a recurring cast of mouse characters rendered in a more cartoon-like style -- though with a range of expressions that make the spirited Lilly, anxious Wemberly, fearless Sheila Rae and sensitive Chrysanthemum into highly believable heroines. Owen, the story of a little mouse who isn't ready to give up his tattered security blanket, won a Caldecott Honor Medal for its winsome watercolor-and-ink illustrations.

Many of Henkes's mouse books deal with such common childhood ordeals as starting school, being teased and getting lost. Chrysanthemum, about a mouse whose new schoolmates tease her about her name, was inspired by Henkes's own feelings when he started school. "The book is about family, and how starting something new and going out into the world can be very hard," he told an interviewer for The Five Owls. "I remember going to kindergarten -- my grandfather had a beautiful rose garden, and he gave me the last roses of the season to bring to the kindergarten teacher the next day. I don't even remember how it happened, but an older kid took these flowers from me on the playground, and I remember coming home, feeling awful." As a grown-up, Henkes is able to translate difficult childhood transitions into stories that are both honest and reassuring. In a review of Chrysanthemum, Kirkus Reviews noted: "Henkes's language and humor are impeccably fresh, his cozy illustrations sensitive and funny, his little asides to adults an unobtrusive delight."

Henkes has also written novels for older children, in which he "explores family relationships with breathtaking tenderness" (Publisher's Weekly). In The Birthday Room, for example, a twelve-year-old boy learns the reason for his mother's long estrangement from her brother, and helps effect a reconciliation. "Refreshingly, Henkes has given us a male protagonist who is reflective, creative and emotionally sensitive," wrote Karen Leggett in The New York Times Book Review. "Ben feels the anguish of his mother's long-simmering bitterness and his uncle's agonizing guilt. Yet at a time when it is almost a fad to blame dysfunctional families for problems, we learn that even though there are never simple answers and not many fairy-tale endings, families can heal."

Though his novels are more complex and serious than his picture books, all Henkes's works suggest an author with deep empathy for the intense emotions of childhood. As a Publisher's Weekly reviewer wrote, "Behind each book is a wide-open heart, one readers can't help but respond to, that makes all of Henkes's books of special value to children."

Good To Know

Henkes's wife, Laura Dronzek, is also an artist. She painted the cover illustration for Henkes' novel Sun and Spoon and illustrated his picture book Oh!.

Henkes has turned down requests to use his mouse characters in a television series, but some of his books are available in video form in Chrysanthemum and More Kevin Henkes Stories. The video's narrators include Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker and Mary Beth Hurt.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse has been adapted into a stage play.

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    1. Hometown:
      Madison, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 27, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Racine, Wisconsin
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin, Madison
    2. Website:

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