Kirkus Reviews QR Code
CRICKWING by Janell Cannon


by Janell Cannon & illustrated by Janell Cannon

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-15-201790-9
Publisher: Harcourt

Continuing in the lapidary visual style that made hits of Stellaluna (1993) and Verdi (1997), Cannon illustrates this tale of a hard-luck jungle cockroach with exquisitely detailed and realistic ground-level views that seem to glow from within. Crickwing, so dubbed after a near-fatal encounter with a toad, likes to play with his food, constructing faces or whole animals, and becoming so absorbed that all too often some predator arrives before he can chow down. Finally he begins taking out his annoyance by bullying a column of smaller leaf-cutter ants—whereupon the leaf-cutter queen orders him seized and left as a sacrifice to the army ants. Saved from certain destruction by two kind-hearted leaf-cutter workers, Crickwing repays them by designing a giant anteater made from vegetation. Its appearance causes the army ants to flee in panic. Though Cannon’s art is far different in technique from James Marshall’s, there is a certain similarity in the way both can pack worlds of expression into eyes that are little more than dots. The insects here may be more or less accurately drawn, but they all have distinct personalities too, and their faces (as well as the occasional drawing of bugs strutting or madly fleeing) will have children laughing in all the right places. Moreover, his wing healed by the end, Crickwing is not only a hero, but an elegant, graceful beauty as well. Readers may not lose their aversion to cockroaches, even with the author’s informative, appreciative closing notes, but they’ll enjoy the adventure. (Picture book. 7-9)