The Cricket in Times Square
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After Chester lands, in the Times Square subway station, he makes himself comfortable in a nearby newsstand. There, he has the good fortune to make three new friends: Mario, a little boy whose parents run the falling newsstand, Tucker, a fast-talking Broadway mouse, and Tucker's sidekick, Harry the Cat. The escapades of these four friends in bustling New York City makes for lively listening and humorous entertainment. And somehow, they manage to bring a taste of success to the nearly bankrupt newsstand.
The Cricket in Times Square is a 1961 Newbery Honor Book.
George Selden (1929-1989) was the author of The Cricket in Times Square, winner of the 1961 Newbery Honor and a timeless children's classic. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Selden received his B.A. from Yale, where he was a member of the Elizabethan Club and contributed to the literary magazine. He spent three summer sessions at Columbia University and, after college, studied for a year in Rome on a Fulbright Scholarship.
People often asked Selden how he got the idea for The Cricket in Times Square. "One night I was coming home on the subway, and I did hear a cricket chirp in the Times Square subway station. The story formed in my mind within minutes. An author is very thankful for minutes like those, although they happen all too infrequently." The popular Cricket series grew to seven titles, including Tucker's Countryside and The Old Meadow. In 1973, The Cricket in Times Square was made into an animated film. Selden wrote more than fifteen books, as well as two plays. His storytelling blends the marvelous with the commonplace realities of life, and it was essential to him that his animal characters display true emotions and feelings.
Selden lived in New York City until his death in December 1989. He enjoyed music, archaeology, and J.R.R. Tolkien. His editor, Stephen Roxburgh, said, "Chester Cricket, Harry Cat, Tucker Mouse, and their friends celebrate the triumph of innocence and camaraderie over cynicism and selfishness. George Selden is gone, but his voice lives on in Chester Cricket's song."
Garth Williams (1912-1996) illustrated all seven of the Chester Cricket books and many other distinguished works, including Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
What makes a book last for fifty years? This is one of the topics we offer for discussion with your students. You'll know the answer to that question - as far as The Cricket in Times Square is concerned - by the time you've read the first chapter. This classic work of children's literature touches on universal themes of friendship, loyalty, honesty, and home; its fantasy is not tied to technology, but to imagination; the characters are as knowable today as they were when the book was first published and as they will be years from now; and the beautiful writing is timeless.
Whether you use the novel with your full class, with groups, or with individual students, we've provided this guide to offer ways of connecting to various curriculum areas and to meet language arts standards. You'll find literature, writing, reading comprehension, theater, music, art, science, and social studies activities. Most of all, you'll find a rich and lasting experience to share with your students.
This guide was prepared by Clifford Wohl, Educational Consultant
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