Monday, July 11, 2011

The Cricket in Times Square

Selden, G. (1960). The Cricket in Times Square. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
This book is a Newbery Honor book.

Exposition: The story begins with Mario Bellini, a young boy in New York City whose parents own a newspaper stand, selling newspapers while Tucker Mouse looks on. The both hear an unusual noise which turns out to be Chester Cricket.
Conflict: Chester Cricket had mistakenly fallen asleep in a picnic basket in Connecticut and ended up in New York.  Mario attempts to talk his mother into allowing him to keep Chester Cricket as a pet.  She is disgusted by bugs but eventually gives in as long as Chester Cricket does not come in the house.  Chester Cricket has to stay at the newsstand.  Mario creates a bed for him out of a matchbox.
Rising Action: The newsstand does not make much money and so the family worries about money. With Chester Cricket living in the newsstand, he makes friends with Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat who visit him after Mario and his family leave each night.
Climax: One night, after Mario had bought Chester Cricket a fancy cage to sleep in, Tucker Mouse spends the night in the newsstand with Chester.  Chester decides to sleep in the matchbox and let Tucker sleep in the cage.  Tucker wants a bed of money, so they get dollar bills out of the cash register.  Unfortuantely, Chester sleep walks and while dreaming of eating a willow leaf, wakes up to find that he has eaten half of a two dollar bill.  As Chester and Tucker are trying to figure out what to do, Mama Bellini opens up the newsstand and is furious.
Falling Action: Mario is made to work to make for the money eaten by Chester.  Then Chester begins playing Italian opera and various other types of pleasing music, which brings many listeners to the newsstand who end up buying newspapers and magazines.
Resolution:  After saving the newsstand, Chester decides it is time to go back to Connecticut.

The dialogue in this book shows much about the characters.  With the animals having the ability to speak to each other, and their distinct personalities coming out through the conversations that take place, you get a deeper understanding of their character traits. 
Not only is there music in the story, but there is also music in the language of the book. The sentence flow so well and the book is a very enjoyable read aloud.  When Mario goes to Chinatown, first to find a cage and then to find out what crickets eat, the reader was exposed to conversations between Mario and Sai Fong, an older Chinese man.  These conversations make for interesting reading.

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