cover image ""Leave That Cricket Be, Alan Lee""

""Leave That Cricket Be, Alan Lee""

Barbara Ann Porte. Greenwillow Books, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-11793-1

When Alan Lee hears a cricket chirping in his house, he resolves to find it. And after his great-uncle Clemson explains how, during his childhood in China, he made and sold cricket cages, Alan Lee is determined to keep this cricket as his pet. Ignoring his parents' admonishments to ``leave that cricket be,'' Alan Lee spends days trying to capture the insect, and he finally succeeds. Alas, confined to an empty pickle jar, the cricket will neither eat nor rub its wings together to make its singing sound. Eventually, Alan Lee emancipates his captive, whereupon it immediately resumes chirping. Though it has a worthwhile message, this belabored, wordy story is hardly the most distinguished work to come from Porte ( Harry's Visit ; The Take-Along Dog ). Similarly static and repetitious, Ruff's ( Rowan ) airbrush, pastel and colored-pencil pictures nonetheless evoke Alan Lee's affection and concern for his unhappy ward. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)