The Adventure of Mr. Icket: The Kindhearted Cricket
by Martha Abrams Marrow
Westwood Books Publishing

"The next morning, Mr. Icket took his hat and waved at the sun, because he was happy about all the things he had seen and done."

Even crickets need to get away from things and go on vacation from time to time. And so Mr. Icket, the kind-hearted cricket, embarks on a set of adventures in this delightful children's picture book. First arriving at a country store, he finds food to eat and a nice, comfortable place to sleep upon a potato sack. In the morning, he finds work in a nearby potato field. Working hard and saving up money, Mr. Icket is able to send presents back to his family and friends via the "Cricket Express." When the insect takes a few days off to visit a lake by the countryside, the joke is on him, as a fisherman is about to use him for his fishing bait. Jumping away, he returns to the farm, happy to see all his other animal friends. Mr. Icket's adventures continue as he narrowly escapes the opened mouth of a large turtle, visits a beekeeping farm and samples their honey, and more. Back at the farm, Icket and his friends celebrate and dance when the rich harvest time arrives. Riding a hot air balloon home (something he has always wanted to do) takes him back to his family, who are chirping and hooraying for his safe return.

Marrow notes that growing up "near open fields, ditches and bridges," she was fascinated with the high-pitched sounds of the crickets, especially strong in the evenings. From her childhood in the South and throughout her travels across the country, she came to "appreciate these little creatures that help to balance our ecosystem." Here, in her first children's book, she says she hopes to show that Mr. Icket is "more than the ordinary cricket. He's full of vitality," she writes, "a super cricket that is able to do chores and is responsible." Having gained respectability both at home and on his travels, the bug survives and thrives "with much fun and adventure."

The author's picture book, complete with illustrations of Mr. Icket, his assorted cricket family members, and all of the different insects and animals the main character meets and works with along the way, is sure to be a read-aloud favorite for any toddler, preschooler, or young child. Not only is there a lot of action going on in the storyline, but also such fun activity is reflected well in the colorful, attractive pictures accompanying the text. Further, the important life lesson of dedicated hard work and the significance of family relations and making new friends are presented. Though at times he narrowly escapes misfortune, for the most part, the title cricket is always quite friendly, waving his little cricket arms and enjoying meeting new animals during his adventures. Also significant is that Marrow includes in these pages a section where Mr. Icket, noting how fast time has gone by on his trip, reflects on how "working has been a delight." He will teach the little crickets upon his return what he has discovered: "Number 1. To be happy and do very little grumbling," and "Number 2. To be strong and humble." These are admirable traits indeed, which young readers of the book will soak up in a healthy way.

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