Kenny Sykes is a pretty unremarkable kid – he’s got a couple of friends, an older sister about to be married, a younger brother he babysits, good parents, and an average suburban life. During the quiet summer mornings he finds a calling – to save the crickets and other creatures that fall into his backyard pool – thus Cricket Man is created. What stumps Kenny, though, is that once he takes a bug, tired from struggling against drowning, out of the water, sometimes they jump right back in again.
Cricket Man gives Kenny hidden powers – of observation, of courage (he says and does things he’d never have dared to before), and of choice – he can intervene for what’s right and to help others. As the school year passes, Kenny (and Cricket Man) discover that the bugs’ struggle in the pool, and their sometimes mystifying return to the water after being saved, is not that much different that how people live their own lives, but that a well meaning gesture or a supportive friend can make all the difference at the right time and in the right place.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s most recent book for young people is warm-hearted, enjoyable and easy to read. Most of the situations and characters Kenny interacts with are common, everyday issues teens face, and watching Kenny come into his own is uplifting. The situation and story involving his neighbor is more complicated, and while Kenny & Cricket Man do their best to help her, he does remain a little out of his depth in recognizing and dealing with her situation. He tries, though, and that seems to be more than others are doing; and for that he is a hero to her.
- Posted by Cori