Zeke Pippin (Hardcover) written and illustrated by William Steig. HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN: 0062050761. pp: 28.
Ages: 6-10, gr: 1-4
Paperback (Reprint edition January 9, 1999) ISBN: 0062059246. pp: 32



Zeke learns to play a harmonica that he found in the street. When he plays for his family, they seem to like it, but fall asleep. This angers Zeke so he runs away from home. He discovers that whatever creature hears him play will fall asleep.
Zeke realizes how his family must miss him so determines to return home. When a pacK of dogs and then a coyote attack him, he outwits them with his special harmonica. An exhausted Zeke finds his way home and uses his harmonica skills for the good of the townspeople.


  1. Listen to a harmonica; solo and featured with other instruments. (requires Quicktime).

  2. How does a harmonica work? (simple sentence explanation for early elementary)

  3. Research the history of the harmonica.

  4. Explore the Hohner harmonica online catalog. If Hohner offered to give you one of their harmonicas, which one would you want?

  5. Zeke is short for what name?

  6. Compare William Steig's drawing of an egret to a photograph of an egret.

  7. Add another scene of your own to Zeke's adventure away from home by having him encounter another animal.

  8. Zeke helps the townspeople by using his music to put babies to sleep and replace patients' sleeping pills. Brainstorm other ways his magical music could help different people.

  9. Define the words in the Word Study section below.

  10. Rewrite the phrases in the Word Study section below.

Word Study

William Steig makes his story more interesting by using uncommon words or using words in an unusual way.
Define the following words:

  1. solitude
  2. regaling
  3. rudeness
  4. independent
  5. excursion boat
  6. reviling
  7. obliged
  8. unanimously
  9. serenading
  10. enraptured

The following phrases are listed in the order that you find them in the book. Rewrite each of these phrases using simple words. Read the book to a partner substituting your simpler phrases. How does Steig's choice of words add to the story?

  1. Moseying down his street
  2. using his father's schnapps as a disinfectant
  3. the family was lazing around the living room
  4. His father crowed, "Isn't that boy a Pippin."
  5. at the brink of dawn
  6. made sure it was shipshape then shoved and shimmied it into the river
  7. Hickaholly River
  8. face-to-face with the wide-open sky
  9. a slew of bagels plastered with peanut butter
  10. he zeezled and zoozled on his harmonica
  11. Zeke nodded off. Nodding back on...
  12. upernatural mouth organ
  13. pondering this remarkable piece of garbage
  14. surcease of their sorrow
  15. fortify himself with some licorice
  16. the Samaritans began researching his baggage
  17. Zeke commenced to play and the villains conked out
  18. the criminals he'd so cleverly bamboozled
  19. with the half-moon half helping
  20. two nanoseconds later a death-dealing coyote had him pinned to the ground
  21. the coyote keeled over
  22. the wretched carmivore was unconscious
  23. bushed and bleary
  24. his harrowing tale
  25. he kept the garbage harmonica on his person

About the Author


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Zeke Pippin. Accelerated Reader: Quiz #44383 EN; Book Level 4.5; Points= 0.5
Book Adventure (Sylvan): Quiz Level 1
Reading Counts: Reading Level 4.8; Points= 2.0
Lexile Level 830
Guided Reading Level O

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