Cherry Almond Butter
Inch by Inch Book Play

Inch by Inch

by Leo Lionni


Winner of the 1961 Caldecott Honor, Inch by Inch is the charming story of a clever little inchworm and how he uses his talent and his brain to outwit a nightingale and escape a dreadful fate. Never preachy, this is a wonderful story about courage, creativity and resourcefulness.

Illustrations are done through the creative use of collage, giving each kind of bird distinctive details that convey individual personalities. The inchworm is cleverly included on each page but in a way the gives the reader the extra fun of finding him hidden in plain sight. Young readers will love the fun of searching for the little hero as he inches his way through the story. 

In this Issue


Green Wraps

This week's recipe, while not derived directly from the story of Inch by Inch, was inspired by the colors of the illustrations. The book is filled with all shades of green, from the vibrant lime green leaves to the apple green inchworm. And so, we have Green Wraps. 

Making the wraps couldn't be simpler: start with spinach wraps, then fill them with as many green foods that you and your reader can think of. In the mood for something sweet? How about celery, green apple, and green grape? Or savory? Try guacamole, lettuce, and green bell pepper. Make a game of looking for green foods at the grocery or farmers markets, then pile them on and wrap it up!

Green Wraps - Inch by Inch - Leo Lionni -


Green Food Ideas (a selection from Eating by Color):

  • green apple
  • mashed peas
  • celery
  • spinach
  • avocado
  • asparagus
  • green bell pepper
  • limes
  • green pears
  • green beans
  • sliced cucumbers
  • herbs
  • zucchini
  • broccoli


Celery, Green Apple, and Green Grape Wraps

For each wrap you need:

  • 1 spinach wrap
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise, ricotta, plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup sliced green grapes
  • about 1/4 cup shredded green apple
  1. Spread mayo, ricotta, or yogurt on wrap. 
  2. Sprinkle celery, grapes and apple over wrap. 
  3. Roll wrap up tightly, slice in half, and serve! 


Inchworm Chalk Drawings

Author and illustrator Leo Lionni created the images in his books using collages. The following is an excerpt of a story about the origins of his first children's book, Little Blue Little Yellow. Read all about the artist here

He was taking his two young grandchildren, Pippo and Annie, from Grand Central Station to his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. When the two youngsters began acting up, he said, "I’ll tell you a story." He pulled out of his briefcase an advance copy of Life and began tearing out pages of the magazine, and from them, small round pieces of various colors.

I put my briefcase on my knees to make a table and in a deep voice said, "This is Little Blue, and this is Little Yellow," as I placed the round pieces of colored paper onto the leather stage.

His grandchildren were mesmerized by the story (as were the adult passengers sitting within hearing distance). 

Instead of making a collage, we decided to mimic the soft, muted inchworm drawings using the classic technique of dry chalk on wet paper. 

Inchworm Chalk Drawing - Inch by Inch - Leo Lionni -

Inchworm Chalk Drawing - Inch by Inch - Leo Lionni -


Inchworm Chalk Drawings


  • Construction paper
  • Colored chalk (we used sidewalk chalk)
  • Paintbrush
  • Container of water
  • Green marker
  1. Give your reader a container of plain water and a paintbrush and let the invisible painting begin. The paper should be covered with the wet paint strokes but not soaked. 
  2. Using the sidewalk chalk, your reader draws a landscape of grass and trees for the inchworm to crawl through.
  3. The masterpiece would not be complete without using the marker to add an inchworm.
  4. Allow the paper to dry completely and then you can lightly spray it with hairspray to reduce smearing. This step is best left to the adult reader. 

This art project was added to the Chalk Link Up, which features other great outdoor chalk activities. Check it out!


The Birds of Inch by Inch

Besides the quick-witted inchworm, Inch by Inch features several beautiful birds. Depending on where you live, some of these birds might be found right in your own backyard, while others are a bit more exotic. 

Never fear! You can learn about these birds without leaving your house, let alone your backyard, using the handy Off the Shelf Inch by Inch Bird Guide.

Each of the following sites features photos of the birds, as well as an audio of their call. Use your copy of Inch by Inch to compare Lionni's interpretations to photographs featured on the sites. 


Inch by Inch Book Play

Inchworm Measuring

Make an inchworm with your reader by cutting a piece of green pipe cleaner 1-inch long. Show your reader how to measure lengths with the inchworm and then stand back and let the curiosity take over. How many inchworms long is the sofa? How many inchworms tall is the bed? The measuring possibilities are endless! 

Inch Along Like the Inchworm

Watch the video of the inchworms inching along and then have some fun moving around pretending to be inchworms.


How to move like an inchworm:

  1. Get down on all fours as if you are crawling.
  2. Move your are forward first as far out as they can go, causing your body to go low to the ground.
  3. Scoot legs forward.
  4. Repeat!


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