Illustrated by Julie Downing

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

This book is dedicated – to my grandmother, Myrtle Lippincott, who told wonderful stories for nearly a century.

The Story Behind The Story

One morning, very early, I awoke and stumbled to my computer with these words in my head, “Nathaniel Hopkins’s great-grandfather was one hundred years old. His name was Henry Hopkins, but people called him Hank. Except for Nathaniel, who called him Greatpaw.”

It’s not often the lines for a story come to me in my sleep, but when they do I am always grateful. I’m sure I was inspired to write this story because of the wonderful great-grandparents, grandparents, and other elders who have been part of my life.

My grandmother lived next door to her son and grandchildren until her death at the age of 98. Every day they spent time together. When visitors came from out of town, she always baked their favorite pie. Mine was lemon meringue!

My great-grandmother still pumped her own water from an outside well and enjoyed square dancing in her nineties.

My friend Ginger’s grandfather, Marc Swingle, lived near my home. Marc led an active, productive life until he died at the age of 100. In his nineties, he tutored math at the elementary school and worked in his garden. Twice a week, he and his wife, Minnie, went out dancing.

Elders are a treasure. Just like Greatpaw in The Chicken Salad Club, they have amazing stories to tell and much to teach us.

Awards and Honors

  • American Bookseller’s Pick of the List
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Book 1999
  • Maryland Children’s Book Award Nominee


School Library Journal

A delightful intergenerational book that promotes families, stories, and fun.

The Dallas Morning News

A memorable tale accompanied by exuberant watercolors.