© 2003 by Lisa Wheeler
Illustrations copyright © 2003 by Ponder Goembel
Old Cricket wakes up feeling, "cranky, crotchety and cantankerous." His wife requests that he repair the roof, but he is in no mood to oblige her. Old Cricket decides to avoid the work by using deceit - he tells his wife that he has a creak in his knee. Concerned, she advises him to see Doc Hopper and she packs a breakfast for him to eat along the way. Old Cricket walks away with a "creak-creak-creak" in case his wife is watching.
Old Crow is not as easily fooled, and he begins to pursue Old Cricket. As he attempts to evade being lunch, Old Cricket throws food out of his bundle hoping the Old Crow will slow down to eat it. Each time, Old Crow gulps the food down without stopping. Finally all that remains is a biscuit and Old Cricket tosses it. Old Crow snaps it up, but because it is so dry, he begins to choke. Old Cricket is then able to escape.
Old Cricket is a perfect read-aloud because there are many opportunities for the reader to ham it up. I borrowed the book from the library two years ago and after hearing my kids' guffaws throughout the first read, I knew we needed to own it. Lisa Wheeler's story has wordplay and repetition. The kids enjoy repeating the "creak- crick- crack
and hic" sounds. The Old Cricket shouts out words like, "Crikey", "Cornsakes," "Criminy" which add to the giggles. There is also suspense as Old Cricket attempts to flee and there is a moral regarding honesty. In addition, I am delighted that great vocabulary words are introduced - cranky, crotchety and cantankerous among others.
Ponder Goembel's illustrations are the icing on the cake. The illustrations are detailed, colorful, lovely and large. The large size is a bonus for me, because all three of my children can easily view them while I read. I don't have to hear, "Let me see," "No, let me see," and "I can't see either." Plus I think "Ponder" is a very cool name and I like pronouncing it each time we read Old Cricket:-) Ms. Goembel informed me that "Ponder" is an old family name meaning "pond."