I loved The Cricket in Times Square when I was a child, and I was therefore very excited to read it to Evalina. It was just as charming as I remembered it to be!
The Story: Chester is a cricket, who was carried in a pile of newspaper from his pastoral home in Connecticut. He ended up in Times Square, and was taken in by a boy who's family runs a struggling newsstand. Chester befriends Tucker the Mouse and Harry the Cat, and learns that he has a unique and wonderful musical ability. He can chirp the tune to any number of songs, perfectly. His talent does not go unnoticed by the humans in Times Square, and soon, Chester becomes a celebrity, putting on two concerts daily. But, is he really happy?
The Good: There are some wonderful friendships in this story! Harry and Tucker, Cat and Mouse, are best of friends, even though they ought to be enemies. Chester is accepted by them without a blink of an eye. The boy, Mario, loves Chester with his whole being. There are lots of details about crickets that are written about with joy. There is joy in the music, and might get kids interested in learning more about it.
The Bad: There is a fire at one point in the book, which scared Evalina. Might take some explaining to kids that most crickets, in fact, only chirp their own songs. I really can't think of anything else.
The Verdict: Read this book! It's sweet and fun. There are sequels, too, I believe. Amazon has the recommended ages as 9-12, but Evalina had no troubles with it, at 7. She could easily have read it mostly on her own. It was fun to read a book that we were done with in a week or so, after the ridiculously long Inkheart and Inkspell!