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Crickwing    by Janell Cannon order for
by Janell Cannon
Order:  USA  Can
Voyager, 2005 (2000)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Janell Cannon's lovely drawings make bugs beautiful and intriguing in Crickwing. It's the story of a little cockroach, whose 'close call with a hungry toad' resulted in a twisted wing, hence his nickname.

Poor Crickwing dislikes his name, avoids his own kind and only ventures out for food 'when the night was darkest' and most dangerous. He makes interesting sculptures of his food before eating it. But predators start to sneak up behind him and grab his edible artworks before he can ingest them himself. He's so hungry he's turning into 'a mere exoskeleton'! Then Crickwing notices leaf-cutting ants who are even smaller than him - and no-one bothers them; why not? He creates obstacles to make their life harder, till their queen orders him captured and sent as a peace offering to army ants. But Eartha and Terra decide that even a 'big bully' deserves better. And Crickwing offers to make amends.

This tale has depth, not just in its layered forest canopy. Crickwing, despised for being different and picked on by predators, turns into a bully, but later redeems himself, becomes a hero, and earns a new career - as a cockroach chef, no less. Kids will cheer him on, and enjoy learning more about his kind from the Cockroach and Ant Notes at the back of this charming picture book.

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