Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Review #6: THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE by George Seldon

THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE by George Selden, Garth Williams (Illustrator)

Publisher: Square Fish
Pub. Date: April 2008
Sales Rank: 3,854
Age Range: 8 to 12

SYNOPSIS (from the publisher):
Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he’d seen it all. But he’s never met a cricket before, which really isn’t surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City—the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He’d be there still if he hadn’t followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone’s picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides—and friends—than Tucker and Harry. The trio have many adventures—from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire.
Chester makes a third friend, too. It is a boy, Mario, who rescues Chester from a dusty corner of the subway station and brings him to live in the safety of his parents’ newsstand. He hopes at first to keep Chester as a pet, but Mario soon understands that the cricket is more than that. Because Chester has a hidden talent and no one—not even Chester himself—realizes that the little country cricket may just be able to teach even the toughest New Yorkers a thing or two.


My Thoughts:

Since New York City figures so prominately in the book world this weekend, it seems an appropriate time to post my review of this children's classic. I read it to my niece and nephew over a couple of weeks, reading a chapter or two in the evenings. My nephew is 8 and my niece is 5. This is the first long book that has held both of their interests, and they eagerly looked forward to each session. My niece would often ask during the day if we'd be reading "the cricket book" that night.

Believe it or not, I had never read THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE before, and I found myself reading ahead after the kids went to sleep because I just had to find out what happened! And why not? This is a charming story full of adventure, friendships, and whimsy. I don't think anything I say would improve on the abundance of accolades showered on this book through the decades since it was first published in 1960. All I'm going to do is give it a big thumbs up and encourage anyone who hasn't read it, to do so -- with or without a kid at your side! It's thoroughly enjoyable!

There's a great website for educators that shows how to use the book as a teaching aid with lists of questions for comprehension, vocabulary lists, and grammar lessons. The site must get a lot of traffic because it's the first one to come up in a Google search.

You can listen to an audio excerpt at the Macmillan website.

Additional praise:

“The story of a musical cricket and his friends, a mouse and a cat of real character, who took up their abode in a Times Square newsstand . . . Most appealing whimsy with beautiful illustrations by Garth Williams.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Delightful reading for the whole family.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“This is absolutely grand fun for anyone, a nine to ninety book with the most enchanting portraits by Garth Williams.”—The New York Herald Tribune

George Selden (1929-1989) wrote not only the adventures of Chester, Harry, Tucker, and their friends but also The Genie of Sutton Place, which was one of School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year.

Garth Williams (1912-1996) illustrated all of George Selden’s Chester Cricket books. His other distinguished work includes Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and the Little House books.


kalea_kane said...

Sounds absolutely adorable. :)

bermudaonion said...

I adored this book as a child! Great review!

Zibilee said...

This looks like a really cute book. I think my friends sons would really enjoy this one, thanks!

Wanda said...

Though not the book I was thinking of, I'm sure my daughter would enjoy it — thanks for the review!

robin_titan said...

Aww this one looks and sounds cute :)