April 1 – National One Cent Day

A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many? by Brian Cleary and Brian Gable Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Do you pick up a penny on the street or step over it as worthless? If you do the latter, you might want to reconsider. Today we celebrate the one-cent coin and its historical and artistic significance. The penny has been in circulation since 1793 and derives its name from the English “penny” but is pluralized in the US as “pennies” instead of the British “pence.”

It wasn’t until 1909 that Abraham Lincoln’s face appeared on the coin as part of President Roosevelt’s initiative to improve the artistic nature of the country’s coinage. Roosevelt enlisted famed sculptor August Saint-Gaudens to design the new penny, as well as the other gold pieces in use at the time. While the designs of other coins have changed over the years, Lincoln has remained the iconic image on the copper-colored penny.

While a single penny may not buy much these days, added together they can still make a difference. And remember the old adage: Find a penny pick it up. All the day you’ll have good luck!

A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many?

Written by Brian P. Cleary | Illustrated by Brian Gable


Part of the Math is CATegorical series, this book is all about money—what it looks like, what it’s used for, and how the different denominations add up to equal the same price for a desired or needed item. Each two-page spread relates in verse a little lesson. The book opens with a general definition of money: “Money is the term for coins and bills that people use / to buy things such as pizzas, pencils, planes, and chains and shoes.”

Kids learn the names of our coins, what they are made of, and the value of each. They discover that coins can be added together or mixed and matched—10 pennies equal a dime; two dimes and a nickel equal a quarter, and so on. The story moves to a dollar store, where the cats buy different items with various combinations of coins. Jenny has 4 quarters, while her brother has 10 dimes. Anna has 100 pennies and Zack is carrying 7 dimes, 1 quarter, and 5 pennies. Kids see that all of these combinations have the same value.

Paper money is up next. A short description of the minting process leads to a discussion of value as the cats purchase a $20 book with various bills.

Brian Cleary’s catchy rhymes and straightforward explanations make this a perfect book for introducing money, its value, and the mathematical concepts of addition, subtraction, and multiplication of using money to buy things.

Brian Gable’s well-known comical cats of the series walk kids through the pages as they ponder prices on items on the shelf and the amount of money in their pocket. The cats’ humorous expressions and silly situations turn this money math lesson into a funny and fun experience. The brightly colored pages focus on the coins and bills, which are clearly displayed, and the direct connections between this money and the objects being bought is obvious.

Ages 5 – 9

Millbrook Press, 2012 | ISBN 978-0822578826

National One Cent Day Activity

CPB - Penny matching

Count Your Pennies! Matching Game


Counting pennies can be so much fun! Saving them can be even better! Collect enough pennies and you can buy something special or donate to your favorite cause! In this printable Count Your Pennies! matching game, draw a line from the stack of pennies to the object they will buy.