Crickwing never set out to be a bully. All he wants is to create his art in peace. But it's not easy being different--a cockroach with a cricked wing and a flair for sculpture is a ready target for the bigger creatures in the forest. Crickwing just wants to even the score, and leafcutter ants are so easy to pick on. . . .Big mistake. Nobody angers the leafcutter queen and gets away with it.
In this epic adventure beneath the foliage, Crickwing and the leafcutter ants go head-to-head. Then a swarm of ferocious army ants threatens, and suddenly everyone is in danger. Crickwing has to do something, but what? He's an artist, not a fighter. What the leafcutters need is a hero. Or, maybe, a cockroach with a really clever idea. . . .
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Janell Cannon, best-known for her award-winning picture books Stellaluna and Verdi, departs from the world of bats and snakes and turns her attention to... cockroaches. None of these are particularly cuddly creatures, but seen through Cannon's anthropomorphizing glasses, they are ones we can sympathize with. Crickwing, cruelly named for his twisted wing, is a lonely food stylist. He builds sculptures out of roots, leaves, and petals... and then eats them. But artistic serenity is not possible in the dangerous forest. The melancholy insect is constantly faced with cockroach-eating lizards, ocelots, and worse, food-stealing monkeys: "'Another masterpiece--ruined!' Crickwing panted. 'I'm starving and my wing aches. I don't know if I can take this much longer.'"
Bemoaning his fate as a "mere exoskeleton," Crickwing wakes up with thoughts of vengeance. As he watches thousands of leaf-cutting ants busy at work, he wonders, "Why isn't anyone bothering these little twerps?" He sticks his spiny leg out to trip one of them, and delights in taunting them further. Of course, the ants don't take this well. They swarm him, drag him into the dark corridors of their anthill, and bury him up to his neck--all the while whispering about how his mother must be heartbroken to have produced such an awful menace. Just as they are about to fork him over as their annual peace offering to the army ants, they have a crisis of conscience. "Nobody deserves that, not even this big bully," says one of the ants, and, risking the wrath of their queen, they release him and flee. Now it's Crickwing's turn to have a conscience. He races after the leafcutters with his creative plan to keep the warring army ants at bay. The story ends in a festive explosion of flower confetti, and a valuable lesson in compassion. The concluding "Cockroach Notes" and "Ant Notes" crawl with fascinating facts about our six-legged friends. (Ages 5 to 8) --Karin SnelsonAbout the Author:
Janell Cannon's picture books have won many awards and are beloved around the world. Before she became a full-time creator of books for children, she designed and produced summer reading programs at her local public library. Born and raised in Minnesota, Ms. Cannon now lives in Southern California.
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Book Description Harcourt Children's Books, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0152017909
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