The 100th Day of school is a commonly celebrated milestone for young elementary students. However, in the book 100 Things author/illustrator Cindy Helms has taken a new twist on the theme making it fresh and fun as well as educational. This book can be used to introduce and teach concepts including math, telling time, building vocabulary, building confidence and self-esteem, overcoming fears, and encouraging creativity and imagination.
The main character is very relatable and provides opportunities to discuss universal feelings children experience. The book opens with a boy in his classroom thinking about his 100th Day homework assignment for the next day. As he rides the bus home, the enormity of the assignment begins to overwhelm him, “100 things!? That number is so huge!” Like many kids, he begins to fret over how to start the process. However, as soon as he enters the house, his cat immediately sparks his imagination, and the boy becomes absorbed in his task. He sees more and more possibilities, a good mix of commonplace objects such as “…button, paper clips, labels for a jar, rubber bands, marbles…” juxtaposed with creative ones such as “The ants on my farm that are all dead. Crazy monsters hiding under my bed.” But once again he becomes overwhelmed by all the choices available to him. He uses his deep calming breaths to quell his anxiety. By the end of the book, the boy has come up with 100 separate objects and decides to bring all 100 of them to school for his 100th-day assignment.
The childlike illustrations immediately set the tone for the book and engage the reader. Colored pencils were used making the pictures look they were drawn and colored with crayons. The color palette replicates what a child might choose – a lot of brown, black and other mainly primary colors with just a bit of variation. Despite the simplicity, the art includes rich with details to help the reader get to know the main character. Depicted throughout the story are the boy’s books, toys, artwork, mementos, and other personal items. These elements provide opportunities for discussion, as well as providing some humor. The artwork makes this book very appealing to the target audience.
The language in this book is rich, descriptive, sometimes lyrical and often rhymes. “Crested waves upon the sea” and “Speckled, gritty grains of sand” are two instances of language usage that stood out. Vocabulary that may be new to the audience is sprinkled throughout the book such as a gaggle of geese and a fleet of boats.
The 100 Things written, illustrated and self-published by Cindy Helms is a delightful and educational book. Budgets are tight, and every book purchase needs to be justified. A book like 100 Things that can be utilized for a variety of concepts and works on multiple levels are in great demand. I highly recommend 100 Things for purchase for school, library and home book collections.