Monday, October 24, 2011

A Review: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

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A Book Review of:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert 


In this charming, rhyming alphabet book, lowercase letters race each other to the top of a coconut tree. When the tree becomes too heavy to hold the entire alphabet, the letters fall out of the tree, and the injured lowercases are led away by their uppercase, parent letters.
Martin, Jr., B. & Archambault, J. (1989). Chicka chicka boom boom. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.


This book is immensely fun to read aloud, and its colorful paper cut-out pictures by Lois Ehlert (a Caldecott Honor artist) are bold, eye-catching, and simple. This alphabet book is addictive to read-- it reads like a chant-- rhythmic and pleasing to the ears. The pictures compliment the text well, characterizing each letter distinctly and with personality. The bright geometric shapes of the illustrations are good for young kids because the colors keep their attention, helping them focus on the story a little more. This book makes the alphabet fun and entertaining, and kids will ask for it again and again.

Professional Reviews:

"In this bright and lively rhyme, the letters of the alphabet race each other to the top of the coconut tree. When X, Y and Z finally scramble up the trunk, however, the weight is too much, and down they all tumble in a colorful chaotic heap: ``Chicka Chicka . . . BOOM! BOOM!'' All the family members race to help, as one by one the letters recover in amusingly battered fashion. Poor stubbed toe E has a swollen appendage, while F sports a jaunty Band-Aid and P is indeed black-eyed. As the tropic sun goes down and a radiant full moon appears, indomitable A leaps out of bed, double-daring his colleagues to another treetop race. This nonsense verse delights with its deceptively simple narrative and with the repetition of such catchy phrases as ``skit skat skoodle doot.'' Ehlert's bold color scheme, complete with hot pink and orange borders, matches the crazy mood perfectly. Children will revel in seeing the familiar alphabet transported into this madcap adventure." 
[Review of the book Chicka chicka boom boom, by B. Martin, Jr. & J. Archambault]. (1989, October 13). Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved from
"Rhythm and rhyme are at the heart of this beguiling alphabet book. The title sets the tone and the first stanza grabs your ear: "A told B / and B told C, / `I'll meet you at the top / of the coconut tree.' / `Whee!' said D to E F G, / `I'll beat you to the top / of the coconut tree.'" A semblance of a story involves all the little (lower case) letters, who scramble up the tree trunk, which tips over, spilling all onto the ground. Then, "Mamas and papas / and uncles and aunts20/ hug their little dears, / then dust their pants." The bright colors and crisp, stylized shapes, that are rapidly becoming Ehlert's trademark put plenty of visual zing in the pages. This begs to be read aloud, an experience that should make learning one's ABCs a highly palatable exercise."
Wilms, D. (1989, October 15). [Review of the book Chicka chicka boom boom, by B. Martin, Jr. & J. Archambault]. Booklist. Retrieved from
Other Uses:

This book would be a lot of fun to act out for young kids (aged 3-5) who are learning or have learned their ABCs and want to show off their skills. Make letters out of cardboard or paper, and assign each child a letter (or consecutive groups of letters, depending on the number in your program). Have a coconut tree on hand.

Read through the story first so that they are all familiar with it. Then act it out with them, saying the words very slowly.

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