Hug A Chug BooksThe Book About Tony Chestnut

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Professional Book Reviews

Reviewed by Amy M. O'Quinn

“Tony Chestnut, the award winning song from The Learning Station, comes to life in this wonderful picture book by Laurie Monopoli. Tony and his younger sister, Eileen, are new in town and begin attending a school where everyone already knows and plays with each other on the playground. Will there be room for two more?

As they sit on the yellow bench watching everyone having fun, Eileen begins to cry and Tony can’t seem to make her feel better. Nothing seems to work, until. . .shy Tony jumps up on the bench and begins to SING! Then the most amazing thing happens! His song captures the attention of the children on the playground, and they all begin to sing along and move to the motions of the Tony Chestnut song! And of course, there is a happy ending as they all play together and realize that when it comes to friends, there is always room for more!

The Book About Tony Chestnut is a wonderful addition to The Learning Station repertoire, and children will love the story that goes along with the hit song. The fun and catchy lyrics, paired with the witty and whimsical body movements (Toe, Knee, Chest, Nut, Nose, Eye, Love, You) are sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike! And of course, Neil, Pat, Bob, Russell, and Skip also make the story, song, and movements extra enjoyable as well.

I really like this book because it emphasizes family love and unity. Tony is concerned because his sister, Eileen, is sad about leaving her old friends and starting a new school where everyone seems happy with the way things already are. When she begins crying, Tony puts aside his own fear and shyness and tries to make her feel better. By stepping outside his comfort zone and singing his fun, catchy song, he not only helps Eileen smile; he makes new friends in the process.

The delightful (high quality) storybook comes with a CD that includes several audios of the story with different ‘turn the page’ signals, discussion questions, and the Tony Chestnut song. In addition, the illustrations by Wendy Sefcik are colorful and engaging. Great story/song. Great illustrations. A perfect combination! Highly recommended!”

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A Mom's Choice Award Recipient

The Book about Tony Chestnut is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS's Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, and New York Times best-selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom's Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.

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Reviewed by San Francisco Book Review

Rating - 5 Stars

“The Book About Tony Chestnut contains a well-executed story that celebrates the importance and value of sibling love. It presents the readers with a situation most will experience in their early years of fitting in a new environment and finding new friends. While some factors can continually change in one’s life, the loving bond within the family is more often the only constant. Tony Chestnut is the perfect epitome of a big brother. His selflessness and enthusiasm to embrace new things will make any younger sibling feel safe and in high spirits at all times. The audio narration provided in the CD also includes engaging songs that do not sound like your typical redundant nursery rhymes or compositions. The melody and rhythms accurately capture the empathy and kindness which makes Tony Chestnut a real hero."

"This is a true gem of a read for children ages 3-7, and they will enjoy the kind of pay-it-forward love that resonates throughout the pages."

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Reviewed by By Dawn Lares, Mom-a-Logues

“If you are one of the few who have not heard about the cute as a button, fun loving red-head, Tony Chestnut, please allow me to introduce you."

"Not only is Tony adorable as can be, he has won numerous Awards for his hit song and this amazing, colorful book about himself and his little sister, Eileen.  His song invites active participation with its clever lyrics, creating lots of movement and energy throughout. It starts off slow and then rapidly gets faster, making it more of a challenge to keep up. For some reason my kids do way better at it than me.”

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Reviewed by Callista, SMS Book Reviews

Summary: Most North Americans know the song "Tony Chestnut." Well this is a book version. It comes with a CD with the song and different versions of the story being read aloud. In this story, Tony Chestnut is trying to help his sister Eileen with her friendship troubles.

No one knows who created the original version but in 1997, The Learning Station released an extended version featuring the characters of Eileen, Neil, Pat, Bob, Russell and Skip which has become very well-known and is sung by kids all around the world

About the Story
I think the story is really cute and a great reminder of how to be a good friend. It's a true friendship story and as a Girl Guide leader, I could easily use the story during a friendship theme. It would be perfect for Kindergarten. My girls (ages 3 and 4) love the book and although they normally aren't fans of books on CD, they love to "read" along with the CD. Tony is a great brother and friend to his sister Eileen when she is sad about leaving her friends.

About the CD
The accompanying CD has 5 tracks. You can hear the story read aloud by British storyteller Jeanne Bowyer with or without page turn sound, or hear the story read by Tony Chestnut himself with page turn sound. You can listen to the Tony Chestnut song and you can even hear some thought-provoking questions for interactive discussion. These are tailored to the 3-7 age group and could be used with your own children, as part of a kid book group or in a school setting.

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Library of Clean Reads

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani, Library of Clean Reads

When the package of this book promptly arrived in the mail, I told my 6-year-old son it was for him. He eagerly tore open the slim box and pulled out the attractive hard covered book. He was excited to find it also came with a read-along and sing-along CD!

I handed the book to my 9-year-old daughter and told her to read it to her brother. She said the story was cute. The Book About Tony Chestnut is about a shy boy named Tony Chestnut and his sister Eileen who have just moved to a new home and a new school. Tony tries to comfort his sister who is very sad about leaving her old friends. He finally comes up with an inventive way to do so.

My son simply loves listening to the book by following along with the CD. He loves the song and sings it by heart when playing or jumping on the couch (he is quite the acrobat!) and my daughter will chime in too. It’s a catchy tune. The illustrations are adorable. In the middle of the book there are 4 pages that are progressively shorter than the rest, almost like flaps, which we thought were cool.

I enjoy watching my daughter read the book to her brother and then hear them as they get to the singing part and begin singing together. It reflects the theme of brotherly and sisterly affection conveyed so beautifully in this touching story about a boy who overcomes his shyness to comfort his sister.

This book is ideal for pre-schoolers, children going to school for the first time or young kids who have recently moved and want to make new friends.

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Tillywig TOP FUN Award

This wonderfully illustrated book and read-a-long, sing-a-long CD will get your kids up on their feet, singing, dancing, wiggling, and laughing, as the hit children's song, Tony Chestnut, is brought to vivid, colorful, activity-inspiring life. The story begins with Tony and his little sister Eileen on their first day of school in a new neighborhood. Sitting on the playground surrounded by kids playing, Eileen's sadness over leaving old friends behind brings her to tears, BIG tears! After failing to cheer up Eileen with his usual tricks, Tony breaks through his shyness and performs a bold, brave, song and dance that engages all the kids, spreading smiles and laughter everywhere. The dance, illustrated in the book, follows the lyrics of the Tony Chestnut song (on the CD), in which children's names double as movement instructions (Pat - pat your shoulders, Neil - kneel, Skip . . .). A fantastic multi-sensory experience for all!

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Reviewed by Alice Berger, Bergers Book Reviews

Tony Chestnut and his little sister Eileen are the new kids in town. When they arrive at the playground, they find that everyone is already playing. No one notices Tony and Eileen, so they sit on a yellow bench and watch.
When Eileen begins to cry, Tony Chestnut needs to do something quickly. His silly antics don’t stop Eileen’s tears, so he decides to sing his special song.

Tony Chestnut (Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut), the song, was released in 1997, and is a fun dance tune where kids point to various body parts while singing along. The Book About Tony Chestnut is the story of how this award-winning song originated.

A CD accompanies this book, with three read-along versions of the story, discussion questions for the classroom, and the original Tony Chestnut song. The discussion questions center on what it’s like to be the new kid, how to make other kids feel welcome, and being compassionate and kind.

The Book About Tony Chestnut has a great, positive message, while also being upbeat and fun. I highly recommend this delightful interactive teaching tool.

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Reviewed by Tiffany Schlarman,

Rating: 9 / 10

Tony Chestnut and his sister Eileen move to a new house and start the first day at their new school. Tony is happy at the thought of making new friends, but Eileen is still sad because she had to say goodbye to her best friends. At Recess all the kids are playing except for Eileen who sits lonely on the playground bench crying. Seeing his sister cry makes Tony sad so he decides to cheer her up. He tries begging her to stop but it does not work. He tries acting like a circus clown and making silly faces but those don’t work either! Eileen just cries harder. Tony decides he must be brave, so he stands up tall, takes a deep breath and starts to sing so loud the whole playground can hear him! As he sings Eileen cheers up and everyone joins in on the fun moves that go along with Tony’s song.

This book is an exciting, colorful, and interactive edition to your children’s library. My daughters absolutely enjoyed it and so did I. The book comes with a CD, so you can follow along to the music after reading Tony’s wonderfully illustrated story! The story itself is an endearing and wholesome story about a kind brother trying to make his sister happy. My daughter asked to take the book to preschool for show and tell so I let her. Her teacher was very happy to read it to the class and they all enjoyed the book and dance tremendously. The moves are very simple and even my two year old can follow along!

I would recommend this book to anyone with children ages 0 -8 years. Of course, if you’re a big kid at heart, you will enjoy it too!

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Reviewed by Eric Jones,

Rating: Must Read!

We just had Easter Sunday at my girlfriend's family's house (my family has no little kids, hence no eggs to hunt) and it was the first real place for me to test out Lauri Monopoli's children's book,  The Book About Tony Chestnut. You see, unlike most children's books, this one doesn't work on the same level with a single child as it does with a group, and the reason for this is that it has a soundtrack!

The Monopolis' (Laurie and Don, book writer and songwriter. I'm assuming they share a family relationship) both have scores of teaching, singing, and child education experiences under their belt. I used to teach writing to eighth graders, so I know the kind of role you have to assume around children. The Monopolis' seem to have inhabited that role for a long time, and I wanted to try out their book and song before an audience.

The story in The Book About Tony Chestnut is really as innocuous as children playing on a playground. Tony and his sister, Eileen, have just moved in from out of town and are nervous about meeting new kids. It's a standard conflict that children will instantly relate to. What is not standard is Tony's answer to the situation. A dance number!

A dance number in a children's book isn't quite as radical as it may seem, but the way it's done is ingenious. Almost in comic book form, different segments of the page represent different motions of Tony's dance and song. After the initial dance instruction, the pages are cut short so that they become a kind of flap book, with each page going to the next child on the playground. The message is clear without having to be explained. You can do this with your children.

And kids love it! After an initial reading and demonstration (you have to have the nerve to be silly around kids), pop the CD in and act out the entire dance. The name, Tony Chestnut, serves as a simple mnemonic device that kids will pick up instantly. "Toe", "Knee", "Chest", "Nut" (your crazy head). I even had a particularly active child play the part of Tony, and he had his sister pretend to cry so that he could cheer her up. I felt like I was introducing the kids to dramatic structure as well as singing and dancing. This book is a must have for anyone with more than one child in the household. It's fun, exciting, daring, and you'll want to do it over and over again.

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Reviewed by Midwest Book Review, Children’s Bookwatch, Reviewers Choice


The Book About Tony Chestnut is a peppy CD-book combo that brightly illustrates the popular Learning Station song of the same title for kids ages 3-7. The origin of the song is told to be a way for Tony Chestnut to cheer up his sad little sister Eileen and to help both of them make new friends at a new school. Tony Chestnut's song is about cheering, sharing, caring, and joining with others to make new friends and welcome old ones. The unforgettable toe-tapping lyrics are imaginatively displayed and illustrated throughout. Enhanced with the inclusion of a hit song by Don Monopoli,  The Book About Tony Chestnut  will secure many more fans for the Learning Station's educational/musical productions. 

Reviewed by Ladyporter


“Mommy, mommy, look! Toe…Knee…!” These were the words bubbling from my daughters lips when I walked through the door after a long day of work. It was quite obvious that the Tony Chestnut book had arrived in the mail.

Even more exciting was that the words to the song came rushing back to me and it was apparent that I had heard this song before—my daughter sung it at her Pre-school graduation! It dawn on me, “there is a book for it now!”

Laurie Monopoli and Wendy Sefcik have come together to offer a wonderful book – including a CD – to illustrate the well-known and beloved song by The Learning Station. This story begins introducing Tony Chestnut and his sister, Eileen. They had just moved to a new house and transferred to their new school. As Tony thought of making new friends, Eileen experiences sadness and perhaps a bit of loneliness. Tony saves the day with the great song that we all remember! If you have not heard the song…please buy this book and enjoy it for years to come.

Parents/Teachers would find this book/CD combo as an asset to their library. This book is a great way to open a discussion for children transitioning to a new school and/or city. Even more so, this book will reinforce teaching of parts of the body and various movements for preschoolers and early elementary students.

The pictures are fantastic and clearly display the movements to the song. This would make a great gift book and fit to keep in your child or students book basket.

You must purchase this book/CD combo. 5 Stars! Excellence!

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Reviewed by Angela Simmons

“The Book About Tony Chestnut” by Laurie Monopoli is a brilliant book that helps young children adjust to a new location. Children often find that a new preschool, school, daycare, or so on can be quite intimidating; this book offers the perfect solution. Not only does it convey a welcoming message the story is rather charming as well.

With adorable illustrations provided by Wendy Sefcik and lyrical content by author Laurie Monopoli, “The Book About Tony Chestnut” is a top notch book that all those who work with children should have on hand. As someone who worked with preschool children I would have loved to have this book on hand when a new student arrived. A definite winner in my book. It also comes with a charming CD, featuring the Tony Chestnut song made famous by The Learning Station. Also included on CD are two narrations of this wonderful book, one by Tony Chestnut himself.

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Reviewed by Monique Burkes


Tony and Eileen Chestnut are brother and sister and today is their first day at a new school. While Tony is excited about making new friends, his sister Eileen is sad because she had to leave her best friends when she moved. On the playground Tony and Eileen sit on the bench as they watch the other children play on the jungle gym, the swings, and with the ball. Eileen gets really sad and starts crying! That made Tony sad. In order to make his sister stop crying – he makes her favorite monkey face. And she doesn't stop crying. So, what does he do? Shy Tony Chestnut stands up on that big yellow bench – and – SINGS! And everyone stops what they're doing so they can look! But, it works! It makes his sister smile! Tony Chestnut uses the sounds of his name (Toe, Knee, Chest, Nut) to sing this really cool song. As he starts singing he points to the corresponding body parts. “Toe Knee Chest Nut Nose Eye Love You Toe Knee Nose...” (pgs 24-26). The song starts out slowly, in order to get the kids used to pointing to the body parts, and then quickly picks up speed. It's fun trying to keep up! This is the cutest song ever! He includes his sister and his classmates in the words of the silly song. And, as a bonus, Tony and Eileen become friends with the kids on the playground. I'm guessing they won't have to sit on the big yellow bench anymore! Included with the book is a CD. The narrator, Jeanne Bowyer, reads the story and sings the song. Tony Chestnut also reads the story. Lastly, there are discussion questions. This song is so original it's crazy! Who can resist such a catchy song? And who can stop themselves from dancing to it? Not this family. This books allows children to actively participate in the story. We all love it. We read it for the first time yesterday, and we're still singing the words today. My younger daughter said the story was “amazing” and the other described it as “cool”. I agree. Apparently this song burst on the scene in 1997, but I hadn't heard of it until I read this book. Although we were late to this party, I'm glad we came. Definitely a keeper for the bookshelf.

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Reviewed by Eileen Hanley

Tony Chestnut dances into your life again in The Book About Tony Chestnut.  He faces the dilemma all children face when there are transitions in their lives.  Tony and his little sister Eileen have moved and it is their first day at a new school.  Tony is optimistic about making new friends, but his sister Eileen is sad to leave her old friends and is not sure her friends will get along without her.

Tony and Eileen became observers, hesitating to take part in the activities swirling around them.  Eileen is inconsolable and does not respond to any of Tony’s antics.  Tony puts his shyness aside and begins to sing.  He now had the attention of the entire playground full of children.  I don’t want to give away the whole story, but Tony breaks into a little dance pointing to the body parts that make up his name.

His sister Eileen joins in the song and actions and soon all of the children on the playground have joined in song and dance.  Tony and Eileen have made friends and all it took was one little shy boy taking a chance – Tony Chestnut!

The illustrations are delightful, childlike and printed on high quality gloss paper.  The cover of the book is enticing with Tony dancing across the page, also noting that a CD is included with the book. 

The reading level is approximately first grade (6 years old) and up, but the concept is meaningful to both younger and older children.  I used the book with a first grade student along with the CD minus the page turn prompt.  On the first read through, he was fascinated by the illustrations and was gathering context clues as he turned the pages.  Upon using the CD with the music prompt, he had to be reminded when to turn the pages.  He said the harp blended into the other music.  With further practice listening for the sound of the harp should not be a problem.

I would highly recommend The Book About Tony Chestnut.  It is an important issue that children think about on a daily basis, will I make a friend, or will I be rejected?  Tony shows that sometimes it is important to take a chance.

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Reviewed by Cayden (age 5 ½) and Max (age 3 ½) Aures and Mom


Cayden: “The Book About Tony Chestnut” is about a boy and his sister who have to go to a new school because they moved away from their old one. His sister is sad because she misses her friends. All of the other kids play at recess but Tony and his sister just sit on the bench and she cries. He sings to make her happy and everyone looks at him. He sings a funny song with his name in it and it has a dance with it too. It goes “Toe Knee Chest Nut Nose Eye Love You” and then there are some other kid's names in the song too. He puts his hands on all of the parts he says, and that is how he dances. The CD with the book was really cool. It reads the story three times and then the lady asks some questions to answer. I liked listening to the CD. It helped me learn some of the words in the book that I didn't know. My favorite part of the book is when the boy is dancing and when we did the dance too! It was cool how he made a song out of his name! My favorite picture in the book was when they were playing on the playground.”

Max: “I liked dancing to the song with Cayden and listening to the CD. I liked the skipping part. My favorite picture was when all of the kids were on the jungle gym and one was hanging upside down! I wish I could hang upside down but I am too little.”

Parent's comments:
“The Book About Tony Chestnut” by Laurie Monopoli is a wonderful interactive reading experience! Incorporating the names into the movements in the song is very clever and my children found it to be quite amusing. Long after the book was put down they were still dancing around to the Tony Chestnut song!           

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"The Learning Station has done it again!  Hit all the right "notes" in providing a delightful quality product for young children.  They truly understand young children and the issues and challenges they face growing up and learning the skills necessary to be successful citizens--and as always, in a fun and musical style unique to The Learning Station." By Dr. Marci Guddemi, Gesell Institute Executive Director

"Today's young children are being rushed into adolescence; they need stories and songs about being friends.  Tony Chestnut gives them both, with a side of laughter! I would love to see Tony Chestnut become the next "Flat Stanley", engaging in all kinds of adventures with friends all around the world!!" By Christine Gordon, Family Guidance of Alabama