Thursday, April 5, 2018

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs (Carol Murray)

Author: Carol Murray

Illustrator:  Melissa Sweet

Target Ages:  5-10

Genre:  Non-Fiction Poetry

Publisher Summary: 
Playful poems highlight surprising facts about the world of insects—from familiar ants to exotic dragonflies to cringe worthy ticks and magnificent fireflies.  

Sample Poems:

“Trees and Knees and Bumblebees”
Rumble, rumble,
Don’t you know
you’re bugging me?

Your buzzing
in the climbing tree
may make me tumble,

Stop that rumble,
Perhaps I’ll stumble
as I flee.

I’ll crash and crumble,
skin my knee,
and then I’ll grumble,

“Praying or Preying?”
Pray tell us, Mr. Mantis,
do you prey or simply pray?

Do you scout about for victims
or fold your hands all day?

You look a little scary,
but appearances deceive.

So, tell us, Mr. Mantis,
what should we believe?

“Fruit Fly Fantasy”
They seem to arise
from bananas and pears,

then capture the table
and circle the chairs. 

Oh, where do they come from
and where do they go? 

They stage an invasion
and vanish like snow.

Cricket in the Thicket is an entertaining and informative collection of poems.  

Poems are written from a child-like perspective, using vocabulary and sound words they will enjoy.  The poems have a smooth rhythm and flow.  Often a whimsical approach is taken when describing the insects, such as the idea of hugging a ladybug or a cricket being an alarm. 

Sweet’s signature style collage and mixed media are amazing, as always. She brings in interesting items like a tape measure for the inchworm page and a magnifying glass for the mites.  Her bright blues, reds, and greens contrast nicely with neutral colors.  On every page, the insects are the stars.

The poems are not heavy in facts, though some of the insects’ habits and characteristics are highlighted.  However, each page has a box with insect facts.  Some of the information I knew, but it will likely be new to children.  However, there are facts that were new to me like daddy long legs spiders are more like a mite than a spider; grasshoppers spit out a brown liquid when they are afraid, and inch worms are moth larvae.  (I probably should have known the last one.) There is additional information in the author’s (cricket) notes. 

The tie ins to science and language arts as well as the engaging way the poems are formed make Cricket in the Thicket an excellent addition to a classroom or home library. 

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
  • Science:  This book connects well to a study of insects.  Incorporate the poems into an insect unit or use the book as a springboard to learn more about insect.  
  • Sound devices:  Connect with a lesson on rhyme or alliteration.  “June Bugs Whoosh” and “Green Grasshopper” are perfect for alliteration  “Just Jumping Spider” and “Go, Ants, Go” are for rhyme.
  • Writing:  Study and/or observe an insect.  Then write a poem about it. 
  • Social Studies:  Discuss what quality or qualities makes each bug special.  Connect that idea to how each person has his/her own special qualities that make him/her special.
  • Comparison:  Identify ways these insects and others are similar, such as based on body type, legs, wings, color, and other characteristics. 
  • Art:  With Melissa Sweet’s illustrations as inspiration, create insect collages. 
Visit The Poem Farm for more Poetry Friday selections.


  1. I hadn't heard about this book...look cute, though! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I've seen"Cricket in the Thicket" online but haven't looked through it yet, thanks for this closer look at the poems, art, and your thorough review! I always enjoy Melissa Sweets illustrations too.

  3. Thanks for spotlighting this book. I'm a big Melissa Sweet fan and have been wanting to see this one in person. Enjoyed the sample poems you shared, and am anxious to read more of Carol Murray's work.

  4. Love the onomatopoeic words in this poem. It reminds me of the poem "What Bee Did." I can see kids learning lots of new words and performing this poem.

  5. Carol has shared some of her book on FB, and thanks for sharing more. This looks just right for my younger granddaughter whose class is studying insects!

  6. I love the wordplay in the poems you shared. This looks like a fun collection!

  7. This looks like a ton of fun - and I am such a Melissa Sweet fan. I look forward to getting to know Carol's work along with her illustrations. xx

  8. Fruitfly Fantasy made me laugh--this looks like a fun collection. Thanks for introducing it!


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