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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/19/2006 Archived Entry: "Childrens' Book Review: The Cricket Winter"

The Cricket Winter
By Felice Holman
Illustrated by Robyn Thomas
Published by Eerdmans Books
Release date: July 29, 2006 (excerpt)

Review by Kathryn Ramage

"If ever there were a cricket who really had something to say? to some boy, for example? he could probably do very well at it, if he had the heart to make the effort. This is a story about a cricket with a heart."

And so begins this charming children's story, about a cricket named Orthoptera Gryllidae (all crickets are named Orthoptera Gryllidae), who learns to communicate with a nine-year-old boy named Simms Silvanus, through Morse Code.

The cricket, a mole, a family of mice, and some other small creatures live within the walls of the Silvanus house, where they are terrorized by a bully of rat who takes all their food. Since it is winter and the snow is piled high around the house, the little creatures can't go elsewhere in search of food. It looks like starvation is imminent... until the cricket hears Simms's science experiments with a telegraph, and responds. The conversation between boy and cricket grows and becomes more detailed, and eventually the cricket engages Simms's help in getting rid of the rat.

It's a sweet and unusual story, with some dark edges where the dispatching of the rat is concerned. Each chapter is prefaced by an epigram similar to the one above, outlining some curious information about the nature of crickets or children.

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