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Crickwing never set out to be a bully—he wanted only to create his art in peace. But the little cockroach is an easy target for the bigger creatures in the forest. In his frustration he decides to even the score by bullying the leafcutter ants. They're just so easy to pick on.

Big mistake. Nobody angers the leafcutter queen and gets away with it.

A lonely ...

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Crickwing never set out to be a bully—he wanted only to create his art in peace. But the little cockroach is an easy target for the bigger creatures in the forest. In his frustration he decides to even the score by bullying the leafcutter ants. They're just so easy to pick on.

Big mistake. Nobody angers the leafcutter queen and gets away with it.

A lonely cockroach named Crickwing has a creative idea that saves the day for the leaf-cutter ants when their fierce forest enemies attack them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Text and illustrations are beautifully matched as readers follow Crickwing's positive transformation."—The Boston Globe

"Cannon's illustrations skillfully blur the line between fact and fancy, and add a feather to her well-decorated cap."—Publishers Weekly

"Crickwing is not only a hero, but an elegant, graceful beauty as well."—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A cockroach with a crooked wing begins picking on creatures smaller than himself and is sentenced to be served up to the army ants-but a few rebels have a change of heart and set him free. PW called this "an amusing tale lightly rooted in natural history. The illustrations skillfully blur the line between fact and fancy." Ages 6-9. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tired of being bullied, an artistic cockroach with a crooked wing and a penchant for culinary sculpture ("I just like to play with my food") begins picking on creatures even smaller than himself--leafcutter ants--and is taken prisoner by the colony. Crickwing is sentenced to be served up as a peace offering to the army ants, but a few brave rebels have a change of heart and set him free. The grateful (and penitent) cockroach repays their kindness and saves the colony by scaring off the army ants with his best sculpture ever--a giant green anteater made of leaves. The tale ends with Crickwing joining the leafcutters as their chef; the celebration that follows includes flower confetti and dancing (the "six-step," naturally). Cannon (Verdi) works her picture book magic once again, producing an amusing tale lightly rooted in natural history (notes on cockroaches and ants follow the story). Reeling in her audience with saucy characters and an engaging plotline, she hooks them with her vibrant visuals. Whether depicting Crickwing creating an edible mouse from a root, leaves and berries, an ocelot peering at him as he hides under a stone or a herd of leafcutter ants falling into one his traps, Cannon's illustrations skillfully blur the line between fact and fancy, and add another feather to her well-decorated cap. Ages 6-9. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Crickwing is a cockroach who has a crooked wing, and the other cockroaches won't let him forget it. He isolates himself as much as he can, risking capture by fierce predators who grab his food before he can eat it. Most cockroaches eat as soon as they find their food. But Crookwing (terrible, hurtful nickname!) is an artist, and creates lovely sculptures before he eats his food. He won't give up his art, but he's getting hungrier and hungrier. Between his physical pain and his emotional turmoil, he can't think straight, and becomes a terrible bully. He finds that leafcutter ants are just right—they're smaller than he is, and they never let go of their leaves, so they never stop working, even when he trips them. Even when he hangs their leaf fragments from a twig. Even when he digs a hole and traps dozens of them. They're a perfect target for an angry cockroach. But the leafcutter queen can get angry, too. It's time for the leafcutters' annual payment to the army ants. What better payment, she decides, than a fresh cockroach? She orders her workers to "Seize him!" When they force him through their tunnel, and his wing pops back into place, his relief from the pain is balanced by his terror at being trussed up as an offering to the army ants. No longer in pain, he does some quick thinking and comes up with a perfect solution. This lovely, thoughtful story of acceptance matches Cannon's other stories of the temporarily misplaced: Stellaluna and Verdi. Her drawings are fanciful, but just real enough. Together, words and pictures show how tiny creatures must look when they're angry or unhappy. Recommended. 2000, Harcourt, Ages 6 to 9, $16.00. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In her latest picture-book creation, Cannon introduces Crickwing, a cockroach with a wounded wing. This basically sweet-natured creature becomes a bit of a bully when he discovers how easy it is to play tricks on a colony of worker ants. When faced with outside danger, however, he uses his creative talents to help his industrious friends. The most striking aspect of the book is the acrylic and Prismacolor-pencil artwork. As with Stellaluna (1993) and Verdi (1999, both Harcourt), Cannon's drawings are exacting-a true marriage of fact and fiction. The cockroaches and ants are precise enough for an entomology textbook, while the lush colors and beautifully realized facial expressions are so reader friendly that even very young children will be enchanted. Unfortunately, the text falls short in comparison. The story is too wordy and somewhat stilted, making it difficult to use as a read-aloud. For older students, the scientific explanations of various species of cockroaches throughout the world may be helpful, but will diminish the storybook quality of the book.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152050610
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 244,235
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.28 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Janell Cannon's picture books have won many awards and are beloved around the world. She is the author and illustrator of the longtime bestseller Stellaluna, Verdi, Crickwing, Pinduli, and others. Before she became a full-time creator of books for children, she designed summer reading programs at her local public library. Born and raised in Minnesota, Ms. Cannon now lives in Southern California.

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Interviews & Essays

Interview with Janell Cannon
Q: First of all, why did you choose a cockroach as the star of your next book?

A: There were many reasons, but one stands out. I felt that bats and snakes were unnecessarily feared and loathed by a majority of people, and if I could write a story -- as I did with Stellaluna and Verdi -- showing these creatures in a new, positive light, perhaps people would be just one more step toward appreciating all forms of life.

The cockroach probably has an even worse reputation than snakes and bats, so I present the story of Crickwing and some related science information in hopes that people will gain a wider perspective on this critter's place on the planet.

Q: In the notes included in the book, you mention that there are more than four thousand species of cockroach. What kind of cockroach is Crickwing?

A: Crickwing's scientific name is Blaberus gigantea. Sounds like he is a big blabbermouth!

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

A: Crickwing the cockroach exists near the bottom of the food chain -- he is constantly dealing with creatures larger and more powerful. He is always running for his life and trying to protect what little he has. His cricked wing is a symbol of how much it hurts to feel powerless and bullied.

I wanted to write a story about how easy it is to become a bully if one is bullied -- and how bullies eventually end up alienated from others. But most important is the idea that, with effort, it's possible to change one's path and find creative, constructive ways to deal with life's injustices.

Q: Did you find models for the characters in your book?

A: I borrowed a terrarium full of Blaberus gigantea cockroaches and studied them closely. I watched their life cycle and how they behaved. One of many things I observed is that they are very fastidious groomers. They wash their faces just as cats do.

Unfortunately, while I was working on the illustrations I didn't have enough time to go to the zoo and study each animal. So I relied on photographs in books and on the Internet for visual information that made it possible for me to draw the animals accurately.

Q: Do leaf-cutting ants really give a peace offering to army ants?

A: No. But similar to the great, green anteater they build in the story, their massive anthills are virtually impenetrable for army ants.

Q: In conclusion -- do you play with your food?

A: Of course! When I was a kid, one of my favorite foods to play with was Wonder Bread. This stuff is totally pliable, and one can squish it into just about any shape desired. It's one of the most sculptable foods available.

I love to cook and invent new recipes and, occasionally, to present food in unusual ways. Enjoying the visual aspects of a meal is just part of the fun of eating.

Q&A courtesy of Harcourt, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2007

    Crickwing the most exciting book ever made

    This book is about a crockroach that escaps from a hungery toad.Evern though he escaped one of his perfect wings bends. Every one called him crickwing.Crickwing despised the nickname, so he moved far away from the others in the dark farest.Every nigth he went out and look for food and made a marvelous masterpices out of it. But every time something bigger and stonger ate it. I like this book because it is sad when his wing gets bended and when all the animals ate his food.I also liked it because it makes you think about thing in the story and i like it too cause it is an exciting story with a big jornery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2009

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