Book info

The Cricket In Times Square (1999)

The Cricket in Times Square (1999)
Rating
3.74 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0440228891 (ISBN13: 9780440228899)
languge
English
genre
publisher
yearling
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The Cricket In Times Square (1999)
The Cricket In Times Square (1999)

About book: 2.5 stars rounded up to 3. I'll admit I wasn't the target audience here, but I think a lot of kids would enjoy this story. It's light and whimsical and full of fun for the elementary age crowd. I think I'll let my niece borrow it if she wants to. She's a voracious reader, 9 years old now, and this should suit her fancy just fine.My copy of this claims it was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal, but I'm not sure why. Sure it was a fun story, but I didn't think it was anything super special. Maybe 1960 was a slow year for kid's books? Looks like Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell won that year. I've never read it, but if it's anything like The Black Pearl I probably won't be overly impressed. Or maybe I'm confusing that one with Steinbeck's The Pearl? I think both of them were snoozefests for me in middle school.Anyway, I'd recommend Cricket for kids, and those who like children's books, but not really for anyone else. It's odd, though. I normally enjoy kid's books. Maybe it's because I've been pissy lately? Tax season will do that to someone who works for an accounting firm. I do know this: I found myself looking at the story through adult eyes and judging with an adult's understanding of the world. I guess therein lies my dilemma? Perhaps I should've read this after I had found my kid's glasses (which I seem to have misplaced) so I could see it the way it was intended. I'm sure I'll find them when the time is right for me to wear them again.Oh wait, I forgot! I did thoroughly enjoy the scenes with the Chinamen. Yeah, they were racist by today's standards, but that never stopped me from liking them...And I just made the mistake of looking up racism in relation to this book on the internet. Let me add this caveat: if you can't deal with some stereotyping, please don't read this. Sai Fong's is pretty heavy-handed but totally believable. I'm sure arguments can be made here, but the fact remains that I've met them. I've seen this caricature with my own eyes multiple times. It's a real person (actually several people I've met throughout my life), and I have never once held that person's differences against him. Am I supposed to upbraid him for being one of the nicest people I've ever met and give him hell because he can't seem to get a hang of using prepositions and articles? Do I get on his case for perpetuating a sterotype? Is it bad for someone to write about a real person? I don't get it (obviously). Some friends have made fun of my whiter aspects. Am I supposed to be upset about it? We kick such around, then roll on. And oh my God! There's an Italian immigrant family in this book that enjoys opera! That's it. Cut! Selden has gone too far. Burn the book and kill the author. Well, revive him first then we can kill him again.Are some people able to enjoy anything at all? Get a grip, people! Then get over it. Jiminy Cricket! Of if you're Sai Fong, Jiminy Clicket!

Chester is a cricket from the woods of Connecticut, but his whole life changes one day when he stows away in a picnic basket and ends up in New York City! Although the city is a new environment for him, he finds a home at the Bellini family’s newsstand in the Times Square subway station. With the help of two new friends, a cat and a mouse, Chester discovers a hidden talent for chirping out different pieces of music. He starts with memorizing simple church hymns, but quickly moves on to intricate symphonies so beautiful that their sound can literally stop rush hour traffic!One thing I loved about this book was its awesome sense of place. The descriptions make it easy to see New York City as the busy, bustling town that it is, where people never seem to stop moving! I was so impressed by the way that young Mario Bellini was allowed to ride the subway by himself whenever he wasn’t working, even all the way across Manhattan into Chinatown. That type of freedom is almost impossible for kids today to imagine!I finally got to visit New York City a few years ago and let me tell you, it was everything that the book described! Times Square was lit up all night long, and thousands of people were coming there just to look at the advertisements! When I was walking around the city that never sleeps, it was hilarious to think about one tiny cricket bringing all those people to a halt! If you’re looking for a classic story that will stop you in your tracks as well, be sure to check out “A Cricket in Times Square”!
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Reviews
Kirei
I loved this book when I was a kid. It's a good book to read right now (early September) because it ends in September. (According to the book, crickets chirp most in late summer. This book spans from the beginning of summer to September.) It is also a good book to read if you are planning a trip to New York City, or even Connecticut (Chester's original home.)The Chinese man's accent is just awful and I cleaned it up when I read this book aloud to my son, but basically it has a good depiction of Chinese people (and people in general) in this book. Everyone is so kind to Chester!
Lizzie
Really glad to give this a reread. I read it in grade school, far away from NYC, long before I thought of living here. (Tangentially, I bought this copy at Half Price Books near Iowa City.) I know that absolutely none of the details of New York came through for me then, because they were entirely outside my frame of reference, so I was really curious about them now.Well, 4 stars for the New Yorkiness! It really does a great job, and feels really accurate. A lot of the environment is completely recognizable, like the area in the Times Square subway station where Mario's family's newsstand is -- on the pedestrian level where the shuttle train is. And just as many things in the environment feel true but are long gone, like the same area of the station being filled with lunch counters (Nedick's is named) and "soda jerks". There's a fantastic illustration on p.33 of the scene where Harry the cat and Tucker the mouse (BFFs) bring Chester the cricket outside to see 42nd Street, and you can tell that that's accurate too. Ladies in hats and dresses, a big Chevrolet sign atop the crossroads, and the Hotel Astor, which I'd never even heard of, but there you go. (Sidebar for you other City History Clubbers, more exterior pictures from 1904-1967, and a super Time Magazine story not really about the hotel but whatever.)The story itself of Chester and his music is nice. It's cute when you have animal characters that know all about humans and understand what they say, but of course we humans can't do the same. It wasn't an extraordinarily gripping story, but Chester is sweet. But my favorite parts were when he and Mario played games or went somewhere together, so more about their friendship would've probably helped me care more about the outcome of the plot. Mario's family is pretty nice, and I like that they're immigrants. (Acceptably white, European immigrants, but all the same.)Because, I have to deduct major points for the entirely unfortunate Chinatown plotline, in which Mario learns that crickets are "sacred" in China and so finds a Chinese person who of course knows everything about crickets -- um, "clickets" -- and wants to give an unlimited number of free things to a random child, and acts like a crazy person a lot. The mispronunciation of Sai Fong's "accent" is just so overboard and not at all how a Chinese person has ever sounded. And at one point, speaking Chinese is described as sounding "like the cheerful clicking of hundreds of chopsticks." It... what? No. It did not. Sadly, cutesy racism dates this story in a much less nostalgic way.Harry the cat is totally the breakout character for me here, anyway. He knows everything about New York and goes everywhere through tunnels and pipes and under parked cars. He can get you to your train in Grand Central or take in an opera at the Met. I confess to being 100% interested in the sequel and the prequel about him. Thumbs up.
Alan
I loved this book. I don't normally like books with talking animals and I don't like Newberry Medal books either but this one was great.The Times Square subway station from The Cricket in Times Square is full of fiction and nonfiction. Some examples of nonrealistic things would be Tucker Mouse, Harry Cat, Chester Cricket, and the Bellinis. Some realistic parts are the shuttle train and the station itself.Tucker Mouse is a city mouse that lives in a drain pipe with a city cat named Harry. For some strange reason Harry and Tucker are best friends. Chester cricket is a country cricket that was brought to NY in a picnic basket and has to live in NY for a while. Mario Bellini is a child from a poor family who discovered Chester in a pile of dirt. Mama Bellini does not like Chester. Papa Bellini is a kind hearted person who thinks Chester is o.k. All of these people are fictional. The only real characters are not people or animals. The “bad guy character” is NY. And then there is a few who do not play a part in the story like the Times Square subway station, Grand Central Station, and Times Square.So the Times Square subway station in the Cricket in Times Square is a world of fiction and nonfiction. I would recommend this book to pet lovers.
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