Waiting by Kevin Henkes – Review by Stacey Shubitz
Have you ever tried to convey the concept of patient waiting to a child? Like most preschoolers, my almost five year-old daughter has a tough time with waiting. We have watched a couple of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” episodes about waiting. We’ve read Waiting Is Not Easy, an Elephant & Piggie book by Mo Willems, too. And of course, we practice trying to wait patiently often. Still, however, it’s a hard concept for a kid to master!
I was ecstatic when I heard Kevin Henkes published a book entitled Waiting this year since I am always on the look-out for resources to help my daughter with the art of waiting. Once Waiting arrived (I promise I was patient while I waited for it to come!), I realized it was worth the wait!
When I entered the world of the story, which is created with watercolors and colored pencils, I came upon five toys staring outside on a window ledge. There’s a spotted owl waiting for the moon, a pig with an umbrella awaiting the rain, a bear with a kite waiting for the wind, a puppy on a sled awaiting snow, and a rabbit (that looks like a jack-in-the-box) who isn’t waiting for anything in particular, but just enjoys looking out the window and waiting. Each toy hopes for something different. When each gets what s/he wants, they are content.
In Waiting, the toys sometimes went missing (presumably to play with the child who owned them), but always returned. They also slept and received gifts. “But mostly they waited.” As a reader, I got to observe the same things they viewed from their windowsill, which included cloud formations that looked like the five of them, a rainbow, a thunderstorm (which made the piggie’s eyes bug-out), snow, and even fireworks. But no matter what happened, the moon, rain, wind, and snow kept these toy animals happy.
By the end of the book, a sixth animal – a cat with patches – joins the crew on the windowsill. Like the bunny, the cat doesn’t seem to be waiting for anything in particular. However, we learn the cat is hiding something inside of her. (I won’t spoil the ending for you!) In the end, the toys can be seen from behind, peering out the window at a bevvy of butterflies, “waiting to see what would happen next.”
While my kiddo didn’t become more patient immediately after reading this book together, it started (another) conversation about how we handle ourselves while we wait for things. She has grown to love the animals and has wondered aloud what they do all day. Plus, subsequent reads of Waiting have led to interesting conversations about what her dolls and stuffed animals do when she’s away at school.
Stacey Shubitz is a Pennsylvania-based literacy consultant (http://www.staceyshubitz.com) and a former elementary school teacher. She is the co-author of Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice (Stenhouse, 2010). Her next book from Stenhouse, Craft Moves: How to Use Mentor Texts in the Classroom, will be available in the spring of 2016. She blogs at Two Writing Teachers and can be found on Twitter at @raisealithuman.