“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault, 1989


The combined contributions of Caldecott Honor recipient Lois Ehlert and prolific children's writer Bill Martin Jr make this playful children's picture book not only a nostalgic classic but also an essential work in graphic design history.  Alphabet learning book, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” holds numerous prestigious awards including Boston Globe's Horn Book Award, the IRA's Children’s Choice Award, as well as ALA's award for Notable Children’s Book.

Lois Ehlert (1934–2021) was a brilliant designer, illustrator, and multi-media artist who was known for using found objects and layering different textures within her work. From an early age, Ehlert had always embraced collage and was particularly inspired by textiles and everyday objects as her mother was a seamstress. She even used natural materials, like beans, rice, and seeds.  Exhilarated by experimentation, Ehlert developed her own process of creating prototype books to ideate from. 

In her work for Martin’s “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” she leaned into a style that became an iconic visual representation of the late 1980s. Integrating bold colors of orange and hot pink, complementary to the bright greens, the work is dynamic in its contrast and cheerful tone. Integrating nodes of modernism and kitsch the work plays harmoniously along Martin’s phrases. 

Targeting young children, but beloved by adults, the work is perfect for creating a long-term connection with the viewer. With over 12 million copies sold, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a household name in the children’s book industry, mostly due to its visual identity and storytelling. Though passed on, Ehlert’s legacy lives on for generations to come through the inspirations she pioneered within graphic design and the book arts. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, By Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault, 1989
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, By Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault, 1989