Brief Plot Description: Mario’s family makes their living at a newsstand at the New York Times Square Highway Station. Mario often helps his parents sell newspapers. One day, he finds a cricket from Connecticut at the station and raises it as a pet. The cricket’s musical talent is revealed and Tucker Mouse, Harry Cat, and the cricket come up with a plan to help Mario’s newsstand business. The cricket plays music at the station to encourage people to stop by and buy Mario’s newspapers.
Genre(s)/Subject(s): Animal Series, animal fantasy, Changes and New Experiences, City Life, Friends and Friendship
Reading Level: 8-12
Awards: Newbery Honor (1961), Lewis Carroll Shelf Award (1963), Massachusetts Children’ s Book Award (1979)
Sequels: Tucker’s Countryside (1969), Harry Cat’s Pet Puppy (1974), Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride (1981), Chester Cricket’s New Home (1983), Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse (1986), and The Old Meadow (1987)
Books Similar in Style, Content, Theme, or Characters: Young Fredleby Cynthia, Time Stops for No Mouseby Michael Hoeye, Loamhedge by Brian Jacques
Programming/Lesson Ideas: After reading the story out loud to children, librarians can ask them to draw a picture based on the plot of the novel.
Personal Thoughts: This beloved and heartwarming story is a perfect choice for reading out loud to children. The plot is unique and very interesting. It combines the realistic element of New York Times Square and a fantasy element of a cricket playing music together in the story. The little boy Mario is a nice character who has love and empathy towards animals. The friendship between the cricket, Tucker Mouse, Harry Cat, and Mario are my favorite part of the story.