Monday, September 12, 2011

A Second is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins Illustrated by Kady Macdonald Denton

A Second is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins introduces children to units of time in a playful and child-friendly manner. Hutchins goes through each unit of time from the second all the way to the year relating each measure to childhood experiences. For example, Hutchins says of the minute, “if you sing just one small song/Chorus, verses, not too long/That's just enough to fill/A minute.” The story proceeds in a question and answer format allowing children to focus on the particular measure and also invites them to relay their own conceptions of time.

Hutchins utilizes rhyme within each line of her story. Rhyme adds a sing-song quality to the text and captures the child's attention. In order to preserve the rhyming style, Hutchins places only a few words on each line of text. This formatting is more appropriate for young audiences. Additionally, text is placed in different locations on each page, which helps to add a playful quality to the story. Colorful pictures further add to the warm and inviting feel. On many pages, several different illustrations are shown, each displaying children in various settings which sends the message that all children, regardless of background have the same system of time.

One of our favorite parts of this story is that it both begins and ends with the message that every second of every year, children are loved by their parents. Many illustrations depict children interacting with their parents or caregivers further reinforcing this message. We hope that families can share in this story's message and enjoy the time they spend together.

To preview this book, click here.


  1. I work in a kindergarten classroom and think that this book could be helpful to my students. Do you think that the irregular placement of words would be difficult for students just learning how to read? Also, the teacher I work with often stops to discuss different themes and words in a book--do you think that students will still understand the rhyme? I love how this book begins with small measurements of time and works up to larger measurements. I could see this being part of a kindergarten social studies lesson. In the beginning of the year, students could work with measurements of time that are presently relevant to them. Then, as you year progresses, students would work with larger measurements of time. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I actually used this book when teaching a practicum lesson to kindergartners last spring! I did it as a read aloud. We paused many times to talk about the relationships between the different time units discussed throughout the book and the children all followed along very well. After reading the story, I had the children play a variation of the game, "memory." They had to match a card with a time unit on it to an activity. For example, one match was, "sing the ABC's 3 times" and "3 minutes." I would definitely recommend this book for use in a kindergarten classroom! Thanks so much for your comment and questions!