To ask questions without expecting ever to get to the end of things, to make a friend of a ""genealogy"" shunned by one's family, to share an adventure, to return home only to find that you ""can't get into"" the family ritual, to question the meaning of life and experience and friendship, and, finally, to become aware that you ""can't go home again"" and don't want to: All these rites of passage are experienced by Kherdian's little cricket Ben, a curious youngster who goes off to see the world in the daytime and takes up with a similarly nonconforming grasshopper named Charlie. The two are covered by grain pitched by two boys working in a barn. Later Ben takes Charlie to a clinic where the firefly doctor fixes his wing with bees' wax and extract of acanthus leaf, and pops him into the infirmary overnight. (That's when Ben returns home.) In the process of his seeking, Ben discusses purpose (and the purpose of happiness) with an oregano leaf, chirrups ultimate questions to the moon and the stars and the wind, and finds that most creatures are as unquestioning and as contented with their old ways as is his own family. On occasion Ben becomes a tad too earnest, but overall he and Charlie turn in a creditably charming performance.