Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Parent Child Book Discussion Questions
Grades 4-5
August 2008

snack ideas: chocolate bar, soda (with ice), blt sandwiches, strawberry coke floats

1. General likes/dislikes and favorite parts of the book.

2. At the beginning of the book, how does Mama Bellini feel about Chester?
How are Mama and Papa Bellini different in the story?

(Discussion: Why would Mama think bugs carry diseases. Is this true?)
Some fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and flies carry diseases like malaria, lyme disease, west nile, etc.
Flies hang out in garbage. Dung beetles, ya know. Many insects eat rotting/decaying material-- things we consider dirty. What GOOD things can insects do for us? (honey, silk, pollinating fruits, enrich soil ,etc)

(Discussion: Are crickets good luck? What other superstitions mean luck?)
In China, crickets are good luck. In parts of Europe it's bad luck to have one LEAVE your house and good luck as long as it stays in
Killing a spider is bad luck.
Ladybugs landing on you is good luck. Count the spots-- that's how many months of good luck.
In Bulgaria, it is actually bad luck to see a butterfly-- it means you will soon be sick.
Black cat-- bad luck
Bats in china are good luck
Bird poops on your car= good luck
Rabbit's foot-- good luck (but not for the rabbit)
First Robin of spring-- flies up is good luck, flies down is bad
horse shoe-- good luck

From Animal Susperstitions by Thomas Aylesworth. McGraw-Hill, 1981
Cross Your Fingers and Spit in Your Hat, Lippincott, 1974

3. What did Chester think of NYC? What made him feel more comfortable and why did he decide to stay?

(Activity: on page 26/27 there are three different ways the chirp of a cricket sounds in different languages. Read a book with animal sounds in different languages.)
Book ideas--Everywhere the Cow Says Moo (Weinstein, 2008); Animal Lingo (Conrad, 1995); Cock-a-Doodle-Doo, What Does It Sound Like to You (Robinson, 1993).

4. Mario goes to Chinatown to get a pagoda cage for Chester. At the bottom of page 42, Sai Fong tells the story of the first cricket. How is Chester like the cricket in this story?

5. Chester lets Tucker sleep in his cage. What does Tucker use for a blanket and pillows. Why?
What happens the next morning?

6. Why does Tucker let Chester have his life savings?
(Activity-- everyone come up with a different combination of coins that can be used to make $2.)

7. Mr Smedley comes to the news stand every Sunday. What does he like to read, and why doesn't he want to hold Chester? What are your favorite magazines?

8. Why does Chester "sing" for the first time? How does his singing affect others?

Activity: listen to different kinds of music. How does each selection make you feel?
Read the Farewell Symphony by Celenza-- listen to the music and see if you can feel emotions.

9. When does Chester change his mind about how he feels in the city? Would you like being famous? Why or Why not? What would be the good/bad parts of fame.

10. Chester decides to go home to Connecticut. Do you think he will be happy there? Do you think he will return to NYC? Why or why not? Will Tucker and Harry go to the country?

Other ideas for the discussion:

NYC books
Music books
Cricket facts
Nightingale folktale

Other resources used to develop this discussion:

Gay Miller's Reading Unit:

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