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Cricket at the Manger

Dig Deeper: Cricket Activities

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Contact Me for another amazing secret on the Cricket pages. Look hard at the art-maybe you'll figure it out before your answer comes!
by Edith Hope Fine
Illustrated by Winslow Pels

A cricket, grouchy from being kept awake by strange noises and brilliant light, tries to find shelter in a darkened stable-where a special baby waits to hear his song.

Sometimes you just don't know where a book idea comes from. Cricket at the Manger may have begun with sound, and thinking about the animals that famous night in Bethlehem. I've always been interested in "sound" words: "Brrrr" for cold days; "Buh-buh-buh-BUHHH!" for the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; "Screech, squeak, sizzle, growl, hiss, gurgle, tintinabulation . . . " That's onomatopoeia-using words that imitate sounds.

For this book, I zeroed in on another creature, a grumpy cricket who didn't know what the fuss and the noise and the crowd and the brilliant star were all about. "Garumph-garicket," he grumbled. He is one irked cricket. ("Irked cricket" = alliteration! Look it up.)

Just look at Winslow Pel's jubilant donkey. The illustrator not only has a donkey, but chickens as well. And check out this cow. Isn't she great?

Look at the detail in the pictures-the nest for the owls, the wool coat on the sheep and the detail in the image of the Christ child.

Winslow Pels decided that our cricket should have a medieval look to him. She tried many different versions before she was happy with him. She uses a technique called collage-putting together bits and pieces of fabric, foil, dried flowers, drawings, painting. As you'll see in the Cricket art, Winslow Pels even used real jewelry. After putting the parts of an illustration together, she put the assembled page onto a color copier, pressed START, and waited to see if she liked how the page turned out. She must have been very happy to see these pages! I was . . .

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