Henkes started by reading about his newest book, Waiting. It’s about five friends, five toys, who all sit on a windowsill. Each is waiting for something different. As each toy waits for its own special moment, things happen around them and they feel happiness, sadness, and most important of all, patience. It’s a really sweet, dreamy book with many pages that are just visual, full-page sketches to be enjoyed and explored.
He spoke a bit about the inspiration for the story and its characters. He had a slideshow presentation, so as he spoke about his studio space, his creative process, and his other stories he would show pictures of his home and the other characters. It was really fun and inspiring to listen to him. Henkes is a very quiet, gentle speaker and his newest book captures that peaceful outlook perfectly.
I was reading an NPR interview with him last week and he said something that explains why he’s such an effective children’s author:
Sometimes I think as adults we think of [children] as — because they're small in size that they're small in all ways — and they're not. They have big feelings, and they have big eyes, they see things, they hear things, they're living life just the way an adult does and I think sometimes as adults we forget that.
After his presentation Jeans got a copy of Waiting signed. I tried to get a decent picture of Henkes, but unfortunately this was the best I could manage.
The evening was a fun chance to dip my toe back into childhood by revisiting an author I’d rather forgotten about in my adult life. As I prepare to take on a new job at a children’s bookstore, I hope that I get experience a lot more nostalgic author visits in the future.