The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

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Title: The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

Notable: Newbery Honor book, 1961

Premise:

Chester cricket is accidentally transported from his rural Connecticut home to the Times Square subway station in New York City.  A friendly cat and mouse help Chester fit into this new and foreign environment, and a boy named Mario Bellini adopts Chester as his new pet.  Chester is instrumental in saving the Bellini’s struggling newspaper stand.

My thoughts:

This book was completely new to me and I’m happy to report that it was an enjoyable read.  The story is very basic, but the animal characters are charming and really the focus of the story.

My two favorite characters are Chester cricket (of course) and Sai Fong, the Chinese gentleman.  Chester is so good-natured and you can’t help but feel sorry for him.  This poor little country cricket finds himself dumped in the big, loud, dirty city without a soul to help him.  Thank goodness Tucker mouse and Harry cat step in!  It’s fun to imagine the scenes when Chester is giving his concerts in the subway and all of the people are standing there rapt.  The child in me wants to go find a cricket now just to listen to their song.  (Incidentally, we had a cricket infestation in our house several years ago, and I can assure you that it’s not too fun hunting loud crickets in the middle of the night when all you want is to get some sleep.)

When we are first introduced to Sai Fong, the man who owns a Chinese laundry and trinket shop, I was afraid that it was going to be another stereotypical portrayal of a Chinese person, hinting at our American superiority.  Thankfully that was not the case.  Sai Fong is a lovable character who is ecstatic about Mario’s lucky pet cricket.  He helps Mario get a cage for his cricket (really a beautiful pagoda), has them over for dinner, and supplies Mario with mulberry leaves to feed Chester.  Although his character doesn’t step outside the bounds of the typical Chinese character, he is presented with a loving eye.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  Though it has not become one of my favorites, I still think it’s a great chapter book for kids.  The story would need a bit more than pure fluff to put it on my list of cherished books.

I recommend The Cricket in Times Square to elementary-age kids or as a cute family read-aloud.

Possible Objections:

  • Chinese man’s language is garbled and spelled phonetically (if you’re particularly sensitive, you might find this offensive)

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah & James Howe

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Title: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah & James Howe

Premise:

The Munroe family finds an adorable baby bunny at the movie theater.  Harold, the family dog, and Chester, the cat, aren’t particularly concerned about the newest member of the family until funny things start happening to the food at night.  Could the cute and seemingly innocent bunny be the culprit?  Chester is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, but how far will he go in his quest for the truth?

My thoughts:

I read Bunnicula as a child, but had never gone back to it since that time.  I forgot what a little gem of a book this is!

The book is written from the perspective of the dog, which makes for some very funny reading.  Things are explained from a dog’s point of view, and with a dog’s understanding and priorities.  Seeing things from his perspective gives the story a unique twist and makes it really fun to read.

Even though the book is quite short, there is a lot of humor and personality packed into the pages.  Chester is a thoroughly neurotic cat and he goes a bit bonkers in his quest to find out what Bunnicula gets up to at night.  Harold is a happy-go-lucky dog who is willing to give their new bunny a chance, but he’s also forced to rein in Chester just a tad bit.  The Munroe family seems to be good-naturedly dimwitted, and eventually the situation is resolved in such a way that they are none the wiser about the eating habits of their little bunny.

I think that the characters of Chester and Harold really make this book.  It’s almost like they’re the cat-dog version of the famous Laurel and Hardy comedy duo.  Chester is serious and uptight, whereas Harold is the bumbling, kindly oaf.  They play off of each other sooo well!  The scene where they are both trying to sit in the same chair is hilarious!

I recommend Bunnicula to children who are beginning to read chapter books, up through preteens.  It also makes a fun, quick family read-aloud.  This would be a great book to read around Halloween, too!

A favorite quote:

“Chester turned to me and said under his breath, ‘That lettuce looks repulsive, but if there’s any milk left, I get it.’  I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him.  I’m a water man myself.”  (p. 10)

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Word Search Book Bag Giveaway — CLOSED

Book Bag Giveaway.jpg

This month’s giveaway is this roomy word search canvas book bag, and a pack of Cats in the Box.  The cats are little sticky notes, but they are so adorable that I don’t know if you could bear to use them!  I gave a set to a friend and had to get some for a giveaway, as well.  They’re too cute not to share.  Let the giveaway begin my darlings!

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open to participants in the United States and will end on March 31, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5 Literary Gift Ideas – #2

Here’s my second installment of hand-picked literary gift ideas!  The last item, the arm warmers, are something that I use when reading in the winter months. For a person with poor circulation, these are a godsend when reading!

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I Have Too Many Books T-Shirt

Magnetic Bookmarks – Crazy Cats

Stickmen Bookends

Rainbow Bookshelves Mug, 11 oz.

Knitted Long Arm Warmers

Mouse Moves House by Phil Roxbee Cox

Mouse Moves House

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Mouse Moves House is a cute and relatively short phonics reader for kids who are learning to read.  It has a lot of rhyming words and short sentences.  There are also a few folded flaps that reveal a change in the illustrations.  The illustrations are by Stephen Cartwright and they are so cute!

In this story, Mack the mouse is moving house, so his friend Jack comes over to help him pack.  At the end, the mice encounter a cat and Jack panics.  It turns out the cat is Mack’s friend Fat Cat.  He helps transport Mack, Jack, and Mack’s belongings to his new home.

Toodles,

Jewls &  Lori

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Wish Upon a Birthday by Norma Q. Hare

Wish Upon A Birthday

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Wish Upon a Birthday is a cute book about a servant boy named Gabe who needs to give a birthday present to the princess, but he doesn’t have any money to buy a gift.  Gabe’s cat does a service for the miller by killing the mice that are plaguing him, so the miller gives Gabe some flour.  Through a series of trades, Gabe ends up with all of the ingredients he needs to make a cake.  In the end, he makes a birthday cake for the princess and it is the gift she likes best.

The pictures are colorful, detailed, and charming.  Slime likes this book because of the birthday cake.  Yummy!

Goodbye,

Slime & Lori

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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso

Spelling Trouble

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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble is about a girl named Salem and a cat named Whammy.  Salem is a young witch who mixes up almost all of the spells she tries to cast.  Her family decides to assign her a companion animal to help teach her how to use her powers.  Whammy the cat is the one enlisted to fill that role.  He also tries to help Salem win a spelling bee that she will be taking part in at school.  Though there is some friction between them, they eventually become friends.  This is the first book in the series.

This book is best for older school-aged kids to preteens.  Bubba likes this book because it’s funny.

Possible Objections:

  1. Salem is a witch and uses magical powers.  If you don’t want your child reading about that type of thing, then steer clear of this book series.
  2. There’s a bit of rude behavior and talk amongst some of the characters.

 

Goodbye,

Bubba & Lori