Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bookish Calendar - Today is the birthday of author and illustrator Janell Cannon

Today is the birthday of Janell Cannon, the author who created Stellaluna, Verdi, Pinduli and other wonderful picture books that feature animals. One of my favorite Janell Cannon titles is Crickwing. I have always had a fondness for insects, and the main character in this picture book is a cockroach.

Janell Cannon
Picture Book
Ages 6 to 9
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005, 9780152050610
Crickwing is in a very disgruntled mood. A close encounter with a toad has left one of the cockroach's wings bent at an awkward and painful angel. To make things worse, every time Crickwing finds and arranges his food to his satisfaction, some creature comes along to either steal his food or it tries to eat him. For Crickwing is something of an artist and he enjoys creating sculptures of his food - beautiful creations of roots, flowers and twigs. He does not, however, enjoy seeing his work destroyed and having to run for his life.
Finally Crickwing has had enough and when he sees a parade of leafcutter ants walking by he decides to have a little fun. Unfortunately what he does is at the expense of the ants and Crickwing rapidly turns into a bully, making life very difficult for the industrious ants.
   Crickwing soon learns that no one bothers ants and gets away with it - not even a large cockroach. Crickwing is taken captive by the leafcutter ants and not long afterwards the queen ant decides on his punishment.
   Crickwing is a very sympathetic character and it is refreshing to read about a creature that most people are terrified of - a cockroach. The author presents her insect characters in such a way that one cannot help hoping the Crickwing will be saved. With humor and compassion Janell Canon's clever story unfolds, each beautifully illustrated page drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the little insect world on the forest floor.
   At the back of the book the author has included some further information about cockroaches and leafcutter ants.

You can look at a profile of Janell Canon here, and if you are interested in insects and their kin, take a look at the TTLG Insects and their Relatives feature.

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