The surprise ending of this enormously popular book features a chip that perfectly reproduces the real sound of a cricket’s song. In the story, a young cricket longs to make a sound by rubbing his wings together as many other crickets do. How he finally gets his wish is a romantic tale as well as a first look at natural history for the very young.
“Although derived from observations of animal behavior, Carle’s stories recall the rhythm and pacing of folk tales; with their brilliant, textured illustrations, they have insured his popularity among picture book audiences. This story, of a silent cricket who finally discovers his song when he meets a female of the species, is no exception. Beginning with, “one warm day, from a tiny egg a little cricket was born,” the book continues the saga of the hero’s growth to maturity through a series of encounters with a variety of insects. Each utters a greeting characteristic of its kind, as suggested by such onomatopoeic verbs as chirp, whizz, hum, and buzz, And each time, “the little cricket wanted to answer, so he rubbed his wings together. But nothing happened. Not a sound.” Obviously, this is a text which encourages audience participation, skillfully shaped through the use of repetition and precise selection of words. The accompanying double-page spreads, although large in scale, are not overwhelming and fit comfortably within the format. Stunning impressions of flora and fauna, they convey energy and immediacy, culminating in a “surprise” ending where a microchip inserted in the last page replicates the cricket’s chirp. This latter touch may or may not be the gilding lily, depending on one’s viewpoint. Fortunately, the last sentence—“he chirped the most beautiful sound that she had ever heard”—is a sufficient conclusion in itself and will stand firm, however limited the life of the soundtrack.”
– by M.M.B., The Horn Book, January/February, 1991
“Eric Carle, the spectacular etymological collagist who wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has a new story of birth and renewal. It’s hard to imagine a cricket more clearly cut out of paper and more clearly able to spring. Lifelike as they are, though, the insects won’t evoke any shudders. Carle doesn’t prettify; he makes you see the gorgeousness of those iridescent creepy crawlies. His technique of decorating the paper he uses for his collages is so distinctive and beautiful that you wouldn’t think he needed any gimmicks; but when you get to the last page, be prepared for a chirpy surprise.”
-by Polly Shulman Voice Literary Supplement, December, 1990
“A small cricket hatches “one warm day,” and the other insects greet him. Though the little guy wants very much to respond, nothing happens when he rubs his wings together. Finally, as night falls, he spies another cricket and attempts to greet her. “And this time…he chirped the most beautiful sound that she had ever heard.” As usual, Carle’s art is lovely and his story is simple and satisfying. But this book has something The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Busy Spider didn’t have: an electric chirping mechanism activated by the turning of the last page. Though the surprisingly realistic noise may get on parents’ nerves, it will certainly intrigue and entertain its intended audience. Ages 3-6.”
– Publishers Weekly, November 9, 1990