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Cricket Man Hardcover – September 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–8—This story covers nine months in the life of eighth-grader Kenny Sykes, socially inept and more of an observer than a doer. Noticing that his 16-year-old neighbor, Jodie Poindexter, is terribly unhappy, Kenny imagines himself a hero, the Cricket Man, who saves her, just as he decides the fate of crickets trapped in the family's pool. Slowly, Kenny stops idealizing Jodie and develops a friendship with her. They share New Year's Eve together, sitting on the roof of his house. Then Kenny has almost no contact with her until a few months later, when she calls begging for his help. Finally Kenny gets the chance to save her—as she gives birth on a picnic table. Rounding out this time in his life are his relationships with his skateboarding friends, a run-in with the vice principal, his sister's engagement and wedding, and the opportunity to rescue a boy from drowning in the town pool. Naylor has written a quiet story that will find an audience with those who enjoy reading about a rather privileged world in which, at least from Kenny's perspective and that of his family, is largely untroubled. Beautifully written, this book showcases the author's superb narrative skills.—Catherine Ensley, Latah County Free Library District, Moscow, ID
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From Booklist

During the summer before eighth grade, Kenny babysits for his younger brother, practices his skateboarding, and saves many hapless crickets from drowning in his family’s backyard pool. Creating a secret persona called Cricket Man (complete with a homemade T-shirt), he fantasizes about saving his beautiful, unattainable, three-years-older neighbor Jodie from whatever sadness surrounds her. The year wears on slowly, until suddenly Jodie calls on him for a kind of help he never imagined. The skateboarder on the jacket and the novel’s low-key, mildly amusing opening do little to prepare readers for the shockingly written climax, involving the birth of a baby, though there are clues in Kenny’s first-person narrative that Jodie is troubled in ways that he doesn’t understand. Naylor sketches a sensitive portrayal of life in middle school, as well as the sometimes very different lives that students live outside the school buildings. An involving novel by a fine storyteller. Grades 7-9. --Carolyn Phelan

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141694981X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416949817
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,557,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I guess I've been writing for about as long as I can remember. Telling stories, anyway, if not writing them down. I had my first short story published when I was sixteen, and wrote stories to help put myself through college, planning to become a clinical psychologist. By the time I graduated with a BA degree, however, I decided that writing was really my first love, so I gave up plans for graduate school and began writing full time.

I'm not happy unless I spend some time writing every day. It's as though pressure builds up inside me, and writing even a little helps to release it. On a hard-writing day, I write about six hours. Tending to other writing business, answering mail, and just thinking about a book takes another four hours. I spend from three months to a year on a children's book, depending on how well I know the characters before I begin and how much research I need to do. A novel for adults, because it's longer, takes a year or more. When my work is going well, I wake early in the mornings, hoping it's time to get up. When the writing is hard and the words are flat, I'm not very pleasant to be around.

Getting an idea for a book is the easy part. Keeping other ideas away while I'm working on one story is what's difficult. My books are based on things that have happened to me, things I have heard or read about, all mixed up with imaginings. The best part about writing is the moment a character comes alive on paper, or when a place that existed only in my head becomes real. There are no bands playing at this moment, no audience applauding--a very solitary time, actually--but it's what I like most. I've now had more than 120 books published, and about 2000 short stories, articles and poems.

I live in Bethesda, Maryland, with my husband, Rex, a speech pathologist, who's the first person to read my manuscripts when they're finished. Our sons, Jeff and Michael, are grown now, but along with their wives and children, we often enjoy vacations together in the mountains or at the ocean. When I'm not writing, I like to hike, swim, play the piano and attend the theater.

I'm lucky to have my family, because they have contributed a great deal to my books. But I'm also lucky to have the troop of noisy, chattering characters who travel with me inside my head. As long as they are poking, prodding, demanding a place in a book, I have things to do and stories to tell.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thirteen-year-old Kenny Sykes feels like a lot of other young teens --- like most of his life is out of his control. Parents make the big decisions, teachers and principals hold all the power at school --- even the question of whether a kid is popular or not often seems like random chance.

Kenny sometimes feels most in control when he's alone or when he's skateboarding with his friends: "What I think about when I ride the skateboard is control. Middle school, see, is like an ocean, but you don't even ride the waves. You're swept up by the current, one swirling mass of arms and legs tumbling down the halls together. On a board, though, you call the shots. Your eyes, your brain, your nerves, your muscles --- your grip, your speed, your spin, your curve...Whether you land on your feet or your butt, it's all up to you."

Kenny feels in control when he's skating (even though he'd be the first to admit he's no Tony Hawk) and powerful when he's pretending to be Cricket Man in his family's pool. Kenny is up early on summer mornings, rescuing the crickets and other insects who have jumped in the pool overnight. He loves the feeling of saving lives, no matter how small. When his self-designed "Cricket Man" t-shirt lands him in the school psychologist's office, however, Kenny finds his own voice --- and some unexpected respect from the rest of the student body.

Kenny might feel out of control and powerless in real life much of the time, but he's sure that Jodie Poindexter, the gorgeous high school junior from across the street, must be his complete opposite. That is, until he notices that she's spending an awful amount of time sitting on her porch roof staring into space. She's also staying in instead of dating, going to dances, or doing just about anything except studying.
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By OptimaK on December 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
My 8 year old son picked this up at the library and I was so appalled when I started reading it. Luckily, he had only read 44 pages before I looked at it. This discusses subjects for much older kids... Like 16. But, the size of text, etc suggests a much younger age group.
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