The Cricket in Times Square
by George Selden
This Newbery Honor Book tells the story of Chester, a cricket from Connecticut, and his friendship with a little boy named Mario, a mouse named Tucker, and a cat named Harry in New York's Times Square.
Chester, a musical cricket from rural Connecticut, finds himself transported (via a picnic basket) to the grit and grime of New York City. When Mario Bellini, a boy from the neighborhood, finds Chester, he raises the insect as his own. Chester soon meets Mario's animal friends, Tucker and Harry, and learns about life on the streets. And when Mario's parents are faced with the bankruptcy of their subway newsstand, the friends try to come up with a plan to save it from disaster.
A Note from the First Lady
Dear Read20 Book Club families,
The Cricket in Times Square is a timeless classic! Touching on the universal themes of friendship, loyalty, the meaning of home, and being true to yourself, this fantasy is as enjoyable to read today as it was when it was written in 1960.
Author George Selden uses beautiful language and lots of literary techniques that grab your attention and set your imagination ablaze as he describes the adventures of Chester the cricket in New York City. I hope you will pay attention to Chester’s courage as he finds himself outside of his comfort zone, and how people (and animals!) help him along the way in his journey. You might even learn that having a good friend by your side can make even the scariest of situations a little more bearable!
Keep up the great reading!
Fun Family Activities
Setting the Scene: This adventure takes place in a particular part of New York City, New York called Times Square. This particular intersection in the city is quite a famous landmark, and is often used to represent the whole city. Use your knowledge about what Times Square might look, sound, and feel like from how it is described in the book and create a collage to represent the book’s setting. You can also do some research about Times Square to help you along, if you like! Find some old magazines or newspapers you can use to cut words and images out of that represent Times Square. If you don’t have magazines or newspapers that you can cut up, you can always use a computer at your local library to print out pictures that you can cut out. Once you have several images and words together, paste them onto a sheet of paper or cardstock. Keep this collage with you as you read through the rest of the book to remind you where the story is taking place!
Literary Devices: Author George Selden uses a literary device called anthropomorphism to tell this story of a trio of unlikely friends. Anthropomorphism is when you give human traits, emotions, or ambitions to animals. The most obvious example of this is displayed when the animals talk! Think about how these critters in the story might be different from their real-life counterparts. What are some other examples of anthropomorphism used in this book? Do you think animals really have dinner parties? Do you think crickets can feel sad?
Music Appreciation: Music is a very important part of this novel, because singing (or chirping) is one of Chester’s unique talents! Music can help us express emotion or relax. It can also provide pure entertainment and enjoyment. Take a moment to listen to some of the beautiful songs from Chester’s repertoire: “The Grand March”, “Come Back to Sorrento”, and “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. As you listen to each song, close your eyes like Papa Bellini does and use your imagination to enjoy each melody. Describe what you heard and imagined after you finish each song. Do you have a favorite song? Why is it your favorite? What do you like about it? How does it make you feel?
Further Reading: If you enjoyed this book, there are several more stories by author George Selden that feature our friends Harry, Tucker, and Chester. Be sure to check out Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride, Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse, or Tucker’s Countryside from your local library.