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Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs

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A nonfiction picture book of poetry about fascinating insects with accompanying facts, notes, and illustrations by the Caldecott-winning Melissa Sweet.

Pray tell us, Mr. Mantis,
Do you pray or simply prey?
Do you scout about for victims
Or fold your hands all day?

In addition to the playful rhyming poems, the supplementary text highlights surprising facts about bugs of all kinds―from familiar ants to exotic dragonflies, cringe-worthy ticks and magnificent fireflies. Melissa Sweet’s collage-inspired mixed-media illustrations beautifully render these creatures and compliment the poems’ whimsical tones. This is an enchanting and informative look at a perennial topic of interest for kids―cool bugs!

A Christy Ottaviano Book

40 pages, Hardcover

Published May 9, 2017

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Carol Murray

6 books1 follower

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5 stars
81 (34%)
4 stars
113 (48%)
3 stars
30 (12%)
2 stars
8 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 73 reviews
Profile Image for Dez the Bookworm.
278 reviews113 followers
March 3, 2023
This is the CUTEST little poem / Scientific book EVER!

I have read this to the kids soooo. Many. Times. They LOVE it!

Each page has a super cute rhyming poem about a bug in bigger bold letters on the main part of the page. At the bottom of the page, there is a box that has factual and fascinating information about each bug!

My kids go WILD for this book and giggle at some silly parts. As a homeschool mom, I appreciate the learning aspect too. It’s great for kids to learn little factoids!

Highly recommend for your bug loving kid, homeschooling kid or bedtime story loving kid! Read a fun story while secretly leaning something…what a parent WIN!
Profile Image for Gratia.
23 reviews
May 19, 2017
Three pages of “Cricket Notes” supplement the poems at the end and gives readers more information about bugs featured. Each bug has a poem, and each reflects the rhythm and movement of the bug. For example in “Go, Ants, Go! “the poem has a steady working beat. The rhythm of “Mosquito Bites! “ is like a sting. “Daddy, What Long Legs You Have!” is spindly and wonderfully wacky like a daddy longlegs. There are informational text boxes for each poem that reveal, in this case, that another name for the daddy longlegs is harvestman. Melissa Sweet's exquisite illustrations offer insights that extend the information and poems by using her signature collage style and asking readers to search a bit for example the camouflaged walking stick, as we would in real life. A few double page spreads treat us to the wonder of bugs as in the grasshopper, who appears to be jumping off the pages. Of course the firefly warrants a double page spread in the magical glow of a night sky. Ages pre-school - 3rd grades will love learning more about bugs, the playful tone of the poems or having them read aloud and finding the bugs if they are very young.
777 reviews13 followers
June 3, 2019
A Kansas Notable Book
Fun was for children to hear poetry. Illustrations are great, and so are the fun facts added to each bug poem!
20 reviews
March 20, 2018
Cricket in the Thicket is a collection of poems about bugs. Each poem is short and informative about the insect it features. The author included notes on each page that tell information about the bug in the poem as well as additional notes on each insect in the back of the book. The author uses rhythm, rhyme, and occasionally onomatopoeia to create interest and make the poems engaging to read. The illustrations crafted using watercolor and collage inspired mixed media are unique and add to the interest of the poems. The beautiful illustrations make the insects look fun and cartoon-like.

Cricket in the Thicket was selected by the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry Committee as a 2018 Notable Poetry Book. This poetry book would be best for students in grades 2-5. It could be used in the beginning of a unit of study on insects as the poems can generate interest on the topic as students may be left with questions after reading the poem. It could also be used as a poetry mentor text to teach about the importance of word choice when writing a poem.
Profile Image for Alice.
4,215 reviews36 followers
October 14, 2017
4.25 stars I am a big fan of Melissa Sweet, so just with her name on the cover I was all in! I also like the non fiction done in a simple fun way. It is also a simple poetry book!
It has all the elements of a good book!!
Profile Image for Cindy Dobrez.
713 reviews28 followers
May 23, 2017
Celebratory poems about bugs of all sorts accompanied by interesting facts about each species. And with Melissa Sweet illustrating, even the cockroach looks friendly. Elementary schools should definitely stock this for their budding entomologists.
Profile Image for Edward Sullivan.
Author 5 books203 followers
May 24, 2017
Poetic celebrations of insects of all kinds with accompanying informational tidbits and bug-friendly illustrations by Melissa Sweet.
Profile Image for Laura.
2,047 reviews39 followers
May 13, 2017
I love Melissa Sweet's work so whenever I see her name on a book, I'm excited to take a look. This is a great book of poetry to use with 1st grade. The language is simple and the poems are fairly short. Some of them rhyme and most of them have a fantastic rhythm that will appeal to younger readers. Each poem by Carol Murray includes a nonfiction interesting fact about the insect and an illustration.

"Ladybug Hug
Everyone loves the ladybug.
She's cute and small and shy,
a bright delightful, friendly sort
and pleasing to the eye."
The fact is about male ladybugs.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,347 reviews
July 13, 2021
We're reading a lot of "bug books" these days and it's nice to see some poetry for a change (and most of the poems are quite well done). The illustration style wasn't my favorite, but it worked well enough. Educational and entertaining. The supplemental material in the back includes more detailed information on insects featured in the poems.
Profile Image for Linda .
3,780 reviews43 followers
June 9, 2018
My youngest granddaughter Imogene's kindergarten class studied insects all year. Recently, I've discovered Carol Murray's "Cricket In The Thicket: Poems About Bugs", illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I just had a bit of time to share it with Imi's teacher and copy a couple of poems for the class, wish it had been around all year. Imi came home talking often about insect parts, knew them all, and the differences among the sexes, the work they did, and on. I was impressed, as I am by the creative way Carol has integrated what's fact with clever wordplay in her poems. Melissa Sweet's mixed-media style adds to the invitation of the book to smile and learn and enjoy these animals some think are scary!
Twenty-seven different insects float, sit, fly and crawl along the pages while basking in the poems written about them. The gorgeous dragonfly becomes a "mini-glider in the sky" while those wonders of playthings, Roly-Polys, "lodge in camouflage,/all rolled up in a ball,/but a gentle nudge will make them budge,/and then they start to crawl." Also called "pill bugs", the book tells "they are actually crustaceans, like shrimp and crayfish, and have seven pairs of legs."
A favorite double page shows a caterpillar, the larva of the monarch butterfly, munching on milkweed, poisonous to birds, those pretty green pods seen in the wild. The page includes a cocoon above, then butterflies flying away into the air on the right. Lucky they are! Carol writes, "Most usually, I'm hidden/when attackers choose to dine,/and birds don't like my milkweed taste. How very, very fine!"
Insects on the "to-be-avoided" list of many are included, too, like ticks and mosquitos, cockroaches and termites. Carol acknowledges the harm they do in the poems but also includes quite amazing information as in Par-tick-u-lar-ly Awesome: "No wonder that the tiny tick/seems so abundant, often thick./The female lays (now here's the scoop)/five thousand eggs--in one fell swoop."
I've only shared a few examples from the wide variety of insects in the book. Those beloved are there, too, the honeybee and the firefly, along with the title crickets plus grasshoppers and praying mantises. Melissa Sweet's art enhances every page, adding to parts of her collages snippets of print that have words concerning insects. It's a wonder of a book that will excite anyone who wonders about those flitting, crawling animals that are now showing themselves this spring.
You will find extraordinary adaptations show off throughout the book, like a spotted water beetle who has a way to breathe underwater by carrying air beneath its wings. Carol Murray has cleverly adapted her poem to a television show you may recognize in her title, "Water Beetles Got Talent" and in the words: "I creep and crawl and glide the sky,/I'm begging for your vote./I've got a lot of talent,/I can flip--and fly--and float!"
There is additional information about each of the twenty-seven in the backmatter. I imagine that any classroom would love to use this as a mentor text for non-fiction research and writing poems. It's a terrific new poetry book.
Profile Image for Katie.
21 reviews
December 2, 2020
What I love most about Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs is that not only is it enjoyable and pleasing to the ears, it is informative too! This picture book is exactly how it sounds. Every page has a poem about a different insect or bug. These poems explain something about the bug in rhyme. For example, the page about the grasshopper explains their body parts. It says their "Hind legs are strong and exceeding long" and "wings let him fly, let him zip through the sky". The rest of the poem continues in this rhyming pattern and gives more details about the body parts. Every page has an illustration of the bug, which is helpful for younger readers in case they do not know what every bug looks like. At the bottom of every page is a box with further details about the bug. These nonfiction details will help students better understand the bugs in the story. There is also a table of contents that tells the readers what page each bug is on, so if students want to learn about a specific bug they can easily find the page.

I think this book would be best for younger reads, such as 2nd-3rd graders. The information provided is pretty basic so older readers may not be interested in it. Younger readers will enjoy hearing the rhymes and learning different facts about bugs. As our course text mentions, many poems will use figurative language and this book is no exception. Teachers can use this book to introduce onomatopoeias or similes and metaphors. This book can also be used as a read aloud to predict the rhyming pattern. For example, the teacher can flip the page and show the insect. Students can then come up with words that rhyme with the insect that they think the author may use. This would be a fun way to keep students engaged! Afterwords, students can create their own rhyme about a bug.

I found this book on the 2018 National Council of Teachers of English list. I could not find it online at my library, so I listened to a read aloud on Youtube. The teacher that read aloud did a very nice of job of showing the pictures and sharing facts about the bugs. She even added her own facts after reading each page. I enjoyed listening to the book this way.
Profile Image for Christopher.
21 reviews1 follower
December 5, 2020
Cricket in the Thicket was one of the 2018 Notable Poetry Books Selected by the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry Committee. The book is divided into different poems about various bugs and insects. The creatures that the book focuses on are ants, bees, caterpillars, butterflies, and grasshoppers.
The book combines cartoon-like full-page illustrations with rhyming text. The illustrations are colorful and the rhyming schemes are simple with tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary interlaced throughout to help students actually understand the content in terms of the importance of the creatures discussed. Another feature that the book includes is fact boxes about each of the species described.
This book is useful for young/beginner readers. It is a great book to use in order to introduce the concept of poetry while including scientific/academic content. I think students will enjoy the illustrations as they aid them in comprehending the text. There are also a lot of connection based and extension activities that can be done as a result of reading this book.
I "read" this book by watching a YouTube read aloud. I enjoyed the fact that the reader showed all of the illustrations and text. The read-aloud took quite a long time to consume however in the sense that the reader stopped and explained quite a bit. As a student, I could see how watching this read-aloud would be helpful with the added explanations but for my purposes, it was not so helpful.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.3k reviews277 followers
June 10, 2017
Thirty brief poems celebrate the wonders of bugs of all sorts and are accompanied by brief but interesting facts about each creature. As always, the illustrations, collages created by the inimitable Melissa Sweet with watercolor and mixed media, enhance the poems, and in this case, make every bug, even the dung beetle, the tick--an engorged one--and the cockroach, seem attractive and even cute. It might be interesting to have youngsters look at these illustrations and then contrast them with images of the real insects to discuss the illustrator's decisions as she created these visual tributes to bugs. My favorite poems were "Firefly Finale" and "Praying or Preying?" since both of those poems remind me of my own wonderings and feelings as a child as I observed mantises and lightning bugs on our family farm. This would make a good introduction to insects for an elementary science class and one sure to inspire a desire to learn more about these bugs and others. I appreciated having additional information provided about each bug as part of the back matter.
Profile Image for Margaret.
2,557 reviews
June 25, 2017
You may not be able to see them all the time, but you can certainly hear them. Their buzzing, chirping and whining announce their arrival and residence. Others who live in relative silence leave behind their handiwork in the shape of silken webs or sandy hills. It can be said that several of them are the ultimate survivors, their existence noted before the dinosaurs.

Some take wing and fly as soon as we approach. Others, as still as stone, blend in with their surroundings. If we are fortunate enough to see them, it's like a gift. Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs (Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt And Company, May 9, 2017) written by Carol Murray with illustrations by Melissa Sweet is a lighthearted, informative approach to acquainting readers with members of the insect community; twenty-nine poems take us on a journey through their buggy realm.

My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...
68 reviews2 followers
January 5, 2018
Cricket in the Thicket is a collection of fun poetry about insects. Upon reading the opening poem, Cricket's Alarm, I could hear that constant chirping you hear when you've managed to get a cricket into your house. The words just bring that notion to life. Each poem is illustrated with Sweet's complex and captivating water color and mixed media for which she is so well known. Along with each poem there is a scientific fact about the insect in focus. This collection would make a wonderful resource in the classroom or home with so many opportunities to inquire further. I certainly had questions to research and learned a few things from those little facts. For instance, I did not know that when a spiny back spider "builds a new web, they take down the old one and eat the discarded silk." Say what? And to top it off, there are "Cricket Notes" in the back with more interesting facts!
This book is really fun.
Profile Image for Seth Schleicher.
27 reviews
December 19, 2019
Title: Cricket in the Thicket
Author: By Carol Murray
Reading Level: V
Book Level: 3.8
Book Summary: These lively poems examine 29 insects and arachnids that are accompanied with mixed-media illustrations. The supporting details of the poems include scientific applications, physiological facts, and historical and cultural relevance.
Bookshelf Mentor Writing Traits

Word Choice:
When starting a poetry unit this book would be a great text to show word choice. While going over the various poems I would ask the students the key words used that they believe best describe and make this insect unique.

Between the illustrations jumping off the page and the poetry of different facts on insects make this book a great way to introduce a Unit on Insects. Between the blend of the water color and collage with short and fun poems makes this a great way to introduce poetry and insects to students.
Profile Image for Sandy Brehl.
Author 8 books131 followers
October 28, 2017
When it comes to content-specific picture books, this one has it all. The poetry is a delightful mix of rhymed and unrhymed verse utilizing varied forms. Melissa Sweet works her illustration magic on each double spread, shifting perspective, embedding numerous scientific elements within gorgeous and appealing images. The "Cricket Notes" in back matter elaborate (accessibly) on the brief info-box sidebars for each insect poem. Even cockroach and mosquito are equal parts intrigue and yuk-factor, with visual details that lend both accuracy and personality to these typically repulsive critters.
This offers something for everyone- sparking curiosity, utilizing specific vocabulary, and charming readers on multiple examinations.
11 reviews
November 13, 2019
A book of about thirty poems all dedicated to different bugs. Each bug has a poem, facts, and beautiful illustrations.
I chose this book because it is a great way to learn facts about bugs. The poetry is fun and light. The illustrations are very interesting and there is so much to talk about each bug. More factual information can be found at the back of the book about each bug.
Grades k-3
I would use this book in the classroom to inspire my readers to write their own poetry. They could choose a subject and write a poem about whatever they chose to focus on. This could be extended to teaching students about how to research a topic which could accompany their poems or help provide facts to incorporate in them. Also, the illustrations provide inspiration for a cool art project.
Profile Image for Elle Dickson.
10 reviews
September 18, 2023
Copyright: 2017
Award: NCTE Poetry
Star rating: 4/5
Summary: This book is all about insects. The book is composed of little poems about different insects like bumblebees, and what noises they make or what they as an insect do. There are also little blurbs about each insects on each page.
Use in a classroom: I would use this book with kindergartners when learning about the different bugs. I think the rhythms of the poems would make it super fun and entertaining for them. I would use the book as a transition into science.
My thoughts: I thought the book was cute, however it's not one of my 5/5 favorites, but the book is still really good. I could see myself using this book as a read aloud if I teach a younger grade.
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews193 followers
June 15, 2017
Murray, Carol Cricket in the Thicket, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2017. $18.

Carol has paired charming rhymes with short facts about several of the different bugs that we encounter on almost a daily basis. Sweet’s illustrations are a just-right companion to the text – I tried to imagine this with photographs, but decided I preferred the collage-like illustrations, which would be fun to emulate and have have students write new poems of their own about other bugs.

EL (K-3), EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher
599 reviews2 followers
November 5, 2017
Cricket in the Thicket: Poems About Bugs / by Carol Murray; illustrated by Melissa Sweet -- New York : Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt and Company, c2017. (40 pages)

SUMMARY: Playful poems highlight surprising facts about the world of insects from familiar ants and exotic dragonflies to cringeworthy ticks and magnificent fireflies. Carol Murray's whimsical verse, together with Melissa Sweet's collage-inspired mixed-media illustrations, beautifully render these dynamic creatures. (bookjacket)

REVIEW: The poems were OK, but I enjoyed the insert of bug facts at the bottom of each page. The illustrations were brilliant and I enjoyed them more than the poems themselves. My favorite poem was "Termite Taste" on page 22. The added notes at the back of the book were OK but I didn't see why they were needed in a special section. They could have been left out or simply added to the facts on the poems page.
Profile Image for Serenity.
1,066 reviews9 followers
November 5, 2017
* I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher through my district library services*

4* for the illustrations, 3* for the poems. The poems are cute, and I think younger readers will appreciate them. It would also be fun as a mentor text for writing poetry because some of the poems rhyme, some don't, and among the rhyming poems, there are different rhyme schemes.

As an aside, it always bugs me (no pun intended) when an insect book includes spiders without an explanation, or when it includes specific species (like monarch butterfly) mixed in with general groups of insects (like termite). This book has both. Just a silly hang up, but I thought I'd mention it.
Profile Image for Cassandra M.
55 reviews
June 19, 2018
This book of poems focuses on short poems that inform readers about different bugs. This is a brightly colored illustrated book that can easily catch a reader’s eye. It would be fun to use when teaching students onomatopoeia, details, facts about bugs, and rhyming. For each poem about a bug there is a small box on the page that includes facts about that bug as well. The “contents” section at the beginning includes a picture of the bug by the title of the poem, which could make it easier for early readers to navigate to the page with the bug they want to read about. This book would be great to use in a primary classroom.
Profile Image for Annette Aas.
19 reviews
December 5, 2020
Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs was a NCTE Notable Poetry Book, a Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Nominee, a Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Award Masterlist Selection, and a 2018 Kansas Notable book. This book is a collection of poems about insects. The illustrations are large and colorful. The poems are perfect for primary age students. Even though the poems are simple and easy to understand, students still learn informational facts through the poems. This book would be a great mentor text for teachers to read aloud prior to a poetry writing unit, especially if the students are also learning about insects in science.
Profile Image for Ro Menendez.
565 reviews20 followers
July 6, 2017
A wonderful mix of free verse and rhyming poetry celebrating the amazing, quirky, funny, and sometimes a little scary, lives of insects, arachnids and even a crustacean (couldn't very well leave out one of the cutest bugs, the roly-poly!) are offered up in this poetry book. The mix-media illustrations are delightful to look at and further explore while finding how they connect with the subject of the poem. Each page includes a small box with an illustration similar to those in zoology books for each animal, and with either a further explanation of the facts learned in the poem, or additional facts. This book serves as a mentor text for writing poetry from scientific facts that will inspire young readers and writers!
Profile Image for Jennifer Miera.
822 reviews5 followers
October 9, 2017
Lovely illustrations accompany this lively book about insects and arachnids. Each page focuses on one bug and contains a little fact window with brief facts about that bug. Table of Contents shows a picture of each bug and the page number where you can find it, so young readers can navigate to where they want to read (or be read to). Back matter includes notes on each bug. A lovely book and an interesting introduction into bugs and poetry. Many of the poems are reminiscent of Douglas Florian's poetry series on animals, which includes Mammalabilia, Bow Wow Meow Meow and others.
Profile Image for Carol.
136 reviews1 follower
August 28, 2018
I'm always surprised when I love a poetry book since I usually think poetry is not my thing. The poems in this book are very accessible (they rhyme :)) and ones even preschoolers would greatly enjoy. I love the collage type mixed-media illustrations with clippings from entomology publications and the short, one or two sentence facts about each insect on a page with more short notes in the back. This would be great for a classroom with all sorts of activities imagined when each child picks a bug to explore.
Profile Image for Erin Engebreth.
16 reviews
November 18, 2021
NCTE Excellence in Poetry.
What a beautifully written and drawn story! This poem book has 32 different bugs, with a new bug on every page. We get a fun rhyme on each page to explain what that bug does and how it benefits out day to day life. After the bug poems there's actual facts about the bugs on the bottom of the page to give students more information. In the classroom, this could be a great story to teach students all about bugs in a fun, interactive way. Each student could get a different bug to write their own poem about.
22 reviews
May 7, 2022
the genre for this book is poetry. The age that this book is recommended for early readers. this book had a lot of poems in it about a lot of bugs. I think my favorites were the ladybug hug and cricket's alarm. i liked ladybug hug because it was telling about if you ever wanted a hug from a bug the ladybug would probably be the best. I liked crickets alarm because it was about a cricket lost in someone's room and it was not quiet. i give this book 5 stars because it had so many poems about bugs. it had great drawing of the bugs and the colors were so bright and colorful.
Profile Image for Donna Johnson.
68 reviews1 follower
July 10, 2018
A collection of short poems about different bugs, with short facts about the insect on each page. The illustrations are very nice and reminded me of scrapbook pages. I did like that it included some bugs that we all probably know but that aren't often seen in books, like the daddy longlegs and roly-poly. If you really like bugs, this would be a great choice for you. Younger readers may find that there are too many poems and their attentions may wander.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 73 reviews

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