Cover image for Chicka chicka 1, 2, 3 / Bill Martin, Jr., Michael Sampson, Lois Ehlert.
Chicka chicka 1, 2, 3 / Bill Martin, Jr., Michael Sampson, Lois Ehlert.
Title Variants:
Chicka chicka one, two, three
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [2004]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : colour illustrations ; 29 cm
Numbers from one to one hundred climb to the top of an apple tree in this rhyming chant.
Audience/Reading Level:
Interest age level: 4-8.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
MAR Book Easy Collection
MAR Book Easy Collection

On Order



1 told 2
and 2 told 3,
"I'll race you to the top
of the apple tree."
One hundred and one numbers climb the apple tree in this bright, rollicking, joyous book for young children. As the numerals pile up and bumblebees threaten, what's the number that saves the day? (Hint: It rhymes with "hero.") Read and count and play and laugh to learn the surprising answer.

Author Notes

Children's writer Bill Martin, Jr. was born and raised in Hiawatha, Kansas. Ironically, the future early childhood educator had difficulty reading until he taught himself, before graduating with a teaching certificate from Emporia State University.

After graduation, he taught high school drama and journalism in Kansas. He served in the Army Air Force as a newspaper editor during World War II. He wrote his first book, The Little Squeegy Bug, for his brother, Bernard, an artist, to illustrate while recuperating from war wounds. It was published in 1945 and the brothers would go on to collaborate on 10 more books by 1955.

He earned a master's degree and doctorate in early childhood education from Northwestern University and became principal of an elementary school in Evanston, Ill., where he developed innovative reading programs. In 1962 Martin moved to New York City to become editor of the school division of Holt, Rhinehart and Winston where he developed the literature-based reading programs Sounds of Language and The Instant Readers.

Martin returned to full-time writing in 1972 and ended up writing over three hundred children's books during his career. His titles include; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear?, The Ghost-Eye Tree, Barn Dance, and Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom. He died on August 11, 2004 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Martin and Sampson (co-authors of I Pledge Allegiance) and Ehlert present an exuberant follow-up to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (which Martin wrote with John Archambault, and Ehlert illustrated in 1989). Here numbers take over an apple tree, rather than letters tumbling from coconut tree branches. Launching the appealingly absurd antics is a challenge framed in the familiar rhythm: "1 told 2/ and 2 told 3,/ `I'll race you to the top/ of the apple tree.' " As the subsequent numbers climb one by one with equal enthusiasm (after 20, the counting goes up by 10s), a worried zero (as indicated by a stray bead of perspiration) chants a refrain, "Chicka Chicka/ 1, 2, 3.../ Will there be a/ place for me?" The climbing comes to a halt when bumblebees arrive, ordering the numbers to vacate, which they do in reverse order ("90, 80,/ 70 fall,/ hit the ground/ in a free-for-all"). A fun twist involves a missing number and zero, who finally realizes where he belongs and leaps atop the leaves, a move that scares off the bees and clears the way for the other numbers to return. Featuring electric colors and an amalgam of basic shapes, Ehlert creates cut-paper compositions as wry and buoyant as the rhyming text. Several embellishments offer additional whimsy (5 wears a top hat, 70 sports long hair); endpapers and jacket flaps brim with brightly-hued numbers. Cleverly calculated verse and visuals add up to numerical mayhem that will entertain as well as reinforce counting skills and digit identification. Ages 3-7. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Preschool) In the immensely popular Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (rev. 1/90), the letters of the alphabet climb up a coconut tree and come crashing down. Substitute numbers for letters, an apple tree for the coconut tree, and co-writer Michael Sampson for John Archambault, and you have Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3. As numbers (all the way up to 99) ascend the tree, zero frets below: ""Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3... Will there be a place for me?"" Bumblebees defend their tree from the invading numbers, and the numbers fall, all except number 10, who eventually is joined at the top of the tree by zero to form the number 100. Ehlert employs the same crisp look of the previous book, cutting bright paper into shapes set flat against a white background, making the pictures feel equally energetic. Her bees are amusingly triangle-headed (and therefore not scary), and children will enjoy finding the various boo-boos on the fallen numbers. However, the text strains to achieve the whimsy and bounce of the original; some of the ideas seem peculiar (""70's hair is long and sandy""?); and the distinction between the one zero in 10 and the two zeroes in 100 is both confusing and false. Overall, it's a visually pleasing but conceptually weak revisit of a one-of-a-kind original. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.