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The Chicken Problem

Fun problem-solving romp for math-loving girl and her cat.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Numbers, math symbols, and simple addition problems on each page make this a perfect book for kids learning to count as well as those beginning basic addition. See a PBS study about what kids learn from Peg + Cat.

Positive messages

Math is fun, and so is solving problems. Working together gets the job done. 

Positive role models

Peg's a girl who loves solving problems, not only of escaping chickens but also the kind involving counting and adding. She's responsible, independent, and resourceful. She shares with her friends, and they all cooperate to gather the chicks. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Chicken Problem is a perfect book for a kid who's just learning to count and do basic addition. The story and characters are engaging, and every page comes alive with animated pigs and chickens, set against graph paper that's scattered with math symbols and numbers. Clever details, such as page numbers, are given as simple addition problems. Also, endpapers filled with sketches of very individual chickens offer much to talk about. Authors Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson have created a new series Peg + Cat on PBS Kids, based on the further adventures of main characters Peg and Cat. 

Parents say

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What's the story?

It all begins when Peg needs one more guest to make her pie picnic perfect. Cat tries to help but, in the process, creates the even more unmanageable problem of 100 escaping chicks. On the verge of \"freaking out\" because she realizes just how many chicks are on the loose, Peg counts to 10 to calm down, and she, Cat, and Pig come up with a plan that saves the day. Counting, logic, and cooperation as well as a willingness to tackle the problem themselves are the reasons they succeed. Numbers and math symbols are scattered amid the very cute drawings of barnyard scenes and, of course, the 100 very individualized chicks. Even the endpapers, both in the front and back, are filled with sketches of various people, animals, numbers...and more chicks.

Is it any good?


This is more than just a counting book; it's about the joy of solving problems, no matter how overwhelming, and it definitely makes math look like fun. The story is a simple one with a happy ending and a great lesson. The colorful, animated illustrations make Peg and Cat's math-infused world come alive with energy and friendship that will captivate even more sophisticated readers. The characters have just enough cuteness to make them lovable and believable, and each scene, set against graph paper covered with faded equations, will give both kids and their parents plenty to look at and share.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about problem solving. How do you feel when you face a problem? Why does Peg start to freak out? Have you ever felt like she does? What helps her out? What helps you?

  • Parents and kids can share endless hours of math fun counting the chicks as well as other plants and animals in the illustrations, doing the simple addition expressing the page numbers, and finding hidden math symbols.

  • The authors set each scene against graph paper that looks as if it has already been used for math calculations. What does that tell you about the world surrounding Peg and Cat? 

Book details

Authors:Jennifer Oxley, Billy Aronson
Illustrator:Jennifer Oxley
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice, Horses and farm animals, Numbers and letters
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House
Publication date:September 25, 2013
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 7
Available on:Hardback

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