James Howe has published more than seventy books for young readers, including the wildly popular Bunnicula, which, along with its sequels, has earned children's choice awards in 18 states. His other books include the Sebastian Barth mysteries, the Pinky and Rex read-aloud series, and The Watcher, a highly acclaimed young adult novel. ED YOUNG is the renowned author-illustrator of more than fifty books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China and the Caldecott Honor book Seven Blind Mice. He lives in New York.
PreS-Gr 3 In the cleanest, clearest prose he's written to date, Howe tells a simple fable that deserves to stay in print a long, long, time. The littlest cricket is so miserable that he refuses to make music because the frog called him ugly. He wishes he were a butterfly instead. When he sees the wise old spider, she tells him what she thinks of him and what she has learned in her spider's life ``spinning and waiting, waiting and spinning.'' He finally feels beautiful, and of course, he is. He begins to fiddle again, and a butterfly, hearing, says, ``I wish I were a cricket.'' Young's shimmering pastels create an insect's view, moving from the cricket's dark jungle of grass with flashes of sun, to light from the butterfly's viewpoint. An excellent lap book, the story also tells well. The cricket is Everychild who stopped the music because someone criticized casually, thoughtlessly. It takes a wise friend to bring the music back, if it's possible. This book could help. Helen Gregory, Grosse Pointe Pub . Lib . , Mich.
After the frog at the pond's edge tells him that he's ugly, the cricket of Swampswallow Pond loses his zest for life and for singing. The glowworm and the ladybug try to persuade the cricket that he's just as good as the rest of them, while the dragonfly declares, ``Wishing is a waste of time.'' Finally, the Old One, a spider who lives on the other side of the pond, spins a wise tale about the real beauty of friendship and convinces the cricket to sing again. The author tells the familiar story of the loss of identity and the uniqueness of individuals in a wistful, not particularly fresh, way. While Howe gives insects a human dimension, Young perceives that world with the eye of a cricket or a dragonfly, noting the color variations and luster on that particular wavelength. The resultant paintings are extraordinary, almost abstract works, much worthier of praise than this oft-told tale. Ages 4-8. or this oft-passed-back-and- forth-review!!!(October)