Posted in Toddler Reads

Book Review: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault, illus. by Lois Ehlert (Simon & Schuster, 1989)

Chicka_Chicka_Boom_BoomRecommended for ages 0-5

This award-winning classic sees the lowercase letters of the alphabet racing up a coconut tree, with a consequence that preschoolers can relate to. Upper-case parents and guardians come to the rescue.

The story is an enduring classic, told in a rhyme that children will be able to pick up and repeat in no time. They can repeat the phrase, “Chicka chicka boom, boom, will there be enough room?” throughout a reading, and will enjoy the story’s rhythm as it proceeds, sympathizing with the lower case letters when they tumble to the ground and are comforted by their upper-case parents, aunts, and uncles. It is a playground collision put to paper!

Lois Ehlert’s bright and eye-catching illustrations use hot pink and orange polka-dotted borders to decorate each page; the coconut tree is a bright green and brown, and the letters are brightly colored, set against a stark white background so that they truly pop from the page. The letters slant to and fro as they climb the tree, giving the impression of movement. The plain black font employs the use of bolding for emphasis; this is a book meant to be read out loud.  Ehlert’s trademark collage artwork is here, with layered coconuts on trees, alternating shades of green on the tree’s leaves, and the layering of the letters on one another as they climb and fall. The endpapers offer a brightly colored alphabet, with upper- and lower-case letters situated together.

The Alphabet Song is a good companion song to a reading, and, space permitting, a round of “Pin the letter on the Coconut Tree” is a fun activity. The Crafting Chicks website suggests an interesting coconut tree craft using toilet paper rolls that children can stick pre-printed letters to.

There is a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom board book, but the story ends when the coconut tree falls to the ground. Toddlers may enjoy the abbreviated story, but you really need the book to enjoy the full story.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has received numerous accoldates, including designation as an ALA Notable Children’s Book and a Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book. Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 teaches readers to count.



I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault, illus. by Lois Ehlert (Simon & Schuster, 1989)

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