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Last updated Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Author: Janell Cannon
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0152017909
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2006

Synopsis: 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.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What nicknames do you have, if any?
•  What does ?crick? mean?
•  Have you ever been physically injured? What happened? How did you feel?
•  Have you ever done something nice for someone? What happened? How did you feel afterwards?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What makes Crickwing different than all the others?
•  What does Crickwing like to do with his food?
•  What bad things happen to Crickwing?
•  What does Crickwing do to the ants?
•  How do the ants fix Crickwing's wing?
•  Why do the ants release Crickwing?
•  Why does Crickwing decide to help the ants and what does he do?

Craft ideas:
•  Send out an invitation to Crickwing's party. Make a menu to include with your invitation. Consider what ants and cockroaches would like to eat.
•  Make a bookmark with drawings from the story, such as ants, leaves, cockroaches, etc.
•  Create your own ?crazy? bugs. List possible bug parts (3 body parts, 2 antennaes, wings, six legs, pinchers, stingers, special eyes, etc.) with the students and have them create their own bugs. If you have students add wings to their bugs, then you can have a contest to see whose bug flies the farthest.

Special activities:
•  Make a friendship bracelet. Bring ahead option: different colored embroidery threads
•  Make a catch game with a paddle in the shape of a leaf. You can make the paddle by cutting out the shape from construction paper and gluing it onto a plate. Cut a hole in the middle of the paddle. Then tie a string to the end of the paddle and to a bead on the other end. Try to flip the bead into the hole in the paddle. See who can get the bead in the most number of times. Bring ahead option: cardboard paper and beads. Bring ahead option: sturdy plates, string, and beads.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!