A kid who needs to bring 100 things to school scours his house for ideas in the richly illustrated picture book 100 Things by Cindy Helms.
A common homework assignment for kindergarteners and first graders is to collect 100 of something, usually in conjunction with the 100th day of school. Helms uses this as a springboard for her main character, Kid, to explore the various items in his house.
Accompanied by his cat, the boy considers many obvious possibilities—ribbon, paper clips, rubber bands, pennies, blocks, flower petals—as well as some humorous, unexpected ones: “The ants on my farm that are all dead,” for example, and “All the shoes in my mom’s closet.” The boy finally decides there are too many different options, and settles on bringing his 100 ideas.
Kid narrates in rhyming verse—a fun, lighthearted choice that generally works well, although there are some hiccups. The rhyme scheme tends to vary, and the rhythm is sometimes awkward (“Diamond, rubies, silver and/ gold from buried treasure./ Trading cards, rabbit’s feet, magic wands/ inchworms that can be measured”). In one stanza the rhyming word confusingly appears in the middle of a line instead of the end.
It’s with the illustrations that Helms really excels. Created with drawing pens and colored pencils, the images have a charming, old-school feel to them, a welcome respite from the similar look of computer-created illustrations. Helms fills every page with color and incredible detail, depicting paper clips, toys, food, even photographs on the walls of the boy’s house. This not only gives kids a lot to look at, but also allows for a kind of hide-and-seek game, as Kid mentions objects that are located somewhere in that page’s illustration. The book’s final pages offer a list of Kid’s Top 100 Ideas, for reference.
Helms has clearly put a lot of work into 100 Things, and it has paid off. Despite a few glitches, young children will love this book.