The Very Quiet Cricket

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by Eric Carle. Picture Book. 32 pages. Grades K-2.
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Review

cover art

A very small cricket tries again and again to make a chirp by rubbing his wings together as other insects pass him, making their unique sounds. Each page has an insect and a verb describing his behavior. Each page also ends with “The little cricket wanted to answer so he rubbed his wings together, but nothing happened. Not a sound.”

The day passes and night comes before the cricket sees another cricket and is at last successful. As a delightful surprise, when the cricket makes his sound, we hear the chirp on the last page.

The word use is interesting and dramatic and Carle’s inclusion of real sound in a book that has been discussing sound throughout the book expands our concept of what a picture book can and should be. Eric Carle has said that each of his "very" books has a theme and that this one is about love and the search for it.

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Things to Talk About and Notice

  • Play the What-If game about the ideas in this book in which children speculate on as many consequences of each "What-if" as possible. For instance, the first what-if might be "What if all insects became twice as big as they are now?" Consequences might be: they'd need twice as much food so we might loose more crops. It would hurt more if they bit or stung us. The noise they make could become a nuisance. Birds who eat insects would need to eat fewer insects to fill up.
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Activities

  • Language Arts: Comparing Literature:
    • Cover ArtMr. Carle has done a series of "Very" books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle and The Very Lonely Firefly. Read all the books in the series and chart the books, showing the concepts and techniques used in each one. What Very Book would you do next if you were Mr. Carle? What quality would this book feature?

  • Language Arts: Verbs:
    • Make a list of the sentences in this book that Mr. Carle uses to talk about other insects. Notice the verbs he uses to tell how the insects moved. Try substituting other words for them. Which sentences do you like best?

  • Science: Insects:
    • Make a chart of the information about insects found in this book. Enter the name, descriptive words and sound the insect makes.
    • Extend the above chart to be "What We Know", "What We Want to Know" and "How We Can Find Out". Let children select one of the insects for further investigation.
    • Devise ways of showing the information gained in the investigation such as Venn diagrams, graphs and charts.
    • Use cardboard circles or pizza boards to make life cycles for each of the insects selected by children to research.
    • Place the above circles on a large wall or bulletin board. Let children choose lengths of colored yarn or ribbon and connect any insects where they can state the reasons for similarity: habitat, habits, color, shape, noise, food, etc.
    • Why do some insects make sounds? For instance, which insects use sound for danger or anger?
    • The cricket in this story uses his sound to attract a mate. What other animals use sound in this way? Make a list.

  • Arts: Music:
    • Have an insect sound contest where students use instruments, found materials, body parts and voices to imitate insect sounds.
    • Listen to a recording of "The Flight of the Bumblebee".

  • Arts: Visual Arts:
    • Look at some of the related books below to see some of the techniques and media illustrators use to create insects. Use some of them to create your own pictures.
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Related Books

  • The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. (HarperCollins, 1996 ISBN 978-0060270872. Order Info.)
    A ladybug is unwilling to share the aphids on a leaf and so flies off to challenge bigger and bigger animals to a fight.

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. (Philomel, 1981 ISBN 0399208534. Order Info.)
    This is probably the best known of Carle’s work. In it a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Read more about this book.

  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. (Putnam, 1989 0399215921. Order Info.)
    A spider is too busy spinning a web to answer the farm animals who ask her to join them in play.

  • Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett. (Putnam, 1991 ISBN 0399222480. Order Info.)
    An orchestra performance is nearly spoiled by a bee. The sound of the bee is highlighted in the story.

  • Amazing Insects by Laurence Mound. (Tandem, 1999 0785702733. Order Info.)
    The full color photographs combined with easy to grasp information should make this a good nonfiction extension.

  • The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco. (Philomel, 1993 039921965X. Order Info.)
    A grandfather starts releasing bees so that he and his granddaughter can follow them to the bee tree. They are soon joined by a whole line of followers.

  • Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. (2004, Puffin/Dial. ISBN 9780140549058. Order Info.) Picture Book. pages. Gr K-3.
    This Caldecott award winning African tale uses the cumulative format. It's a pourquoi tale or myth, telling how some natural phenomena came to be. In this case it's why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears.
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