Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Cricket in Times Square Audio

The Cricket in Times Square Audio

George Selden
For ages 8 to 11
Performed/read by: Barbara Caruso
Recorded Books, 1994   ISBN: 978-0788734519

Chester cricket is enjoying a pleasant day in early summer sitting on his tree stump when the delicious smell of liverwurst wafts past his nose. Before he quite knows what he is doing Chester hops into a nearby picnic basket and soon he is busily eating as much as he can. In fact Chester eats so much that he dozes off and when he wakes up the picnic basket, with him in it, is on its way to New York City.

Poor Chester isn’t able to escape from the basket for some time. Indeed he only manages to get out when the basket has reached the subway station in Times Square. Here he hides in a corner where a little boy, Mario Bellini, soon finds him. Mario, his Papa and his Mama, own and run a newspaper stand in the subway station and the little boy thinks that Chester is a truly remarkable and delightful find. He wants to keep the cricket for a pet and after some discussion his parents agree to let him keep the little cricket in the newsstand.

That first night in the newsstand Chester discovers that two other animals live in the subway station at Times Square, Harry the cat and Tucker the mouse. Chester, Harry and Tucker become fast friends and they spend many wonderful evenings together. Then one evening the friends discover that Chester has an extraordinary gift: he is able to play any piece of music he hears. Not only is he able to chirp hymns, arias, popular songs, and orchestral pieces but Chester does so with perfect pitch and with superb musical expression. The Bellinis and indeed much of New York is astonished when they hear Chester perform. What an extraordinary thing! What a marvel! And yet, Chester is not happy. Something is missing in his life. It would appear that fame does not necessarily make a cricket happy.

This heartwarming, sometimes funny, and beautifully told Newbery Honor story is still as appealing today as it was when it was first published in 1970. One cannot help liking the characters and the story unfolds to a perfect conclusion which, though perhaps bittersweet, is nevertheless fitting in every way.