Summary: Mario worked at his father's newsstand in Times Square (New York). He heard an unfamiliar noise while working. He followed the sound and it led him to a cricket that was hiding under a bunch of trash. The cricket happened to be named Chester. He'd traveled to New York all the way from Connecticut. Mario decided to keep Chester as his pet cricket. The cricket had to stay at the newsstand, "No crickets in the house!"ÃÂ His mother had said.
After Mario went home that first night, Chester met Tucker the mouse and Harry, the cat. They became great friends. These guys got into trouble a few times. One night, Chester ate half of a $2 bill in his sleep. This money belonged to Mario's parents. Tucker loaned Chester the money to pay Mario's parents back. Then the three animals had a party and danced to music in the newsstand.
Chester learned songs off the radio and played them back for his friends. He could play the songs exactly the way they sounded on the radio. While dancing, Tucker accidentally knocked a book of matches off the newsstand and the whole newsstand caught on fire. Chester jumped on the alarm clock to warn others of the fire. The fire was eventually put out, but many papers and magazines were ruined.
Mario's mother said that the cricket had to go. Just as she was saying this, Chester began to play one of the songs that he'd heard on the radio. It happened to be her favorite song. She agreed to let him stay again. Crowds began to stop and listen to Chester play his songs. The newsstand began to get lots of business. Everyone wanted to hear Chester. Each night Tucker and Harry would teach Chester new songs. Chester played these songs for his audience each day.
Chester began to get frustrated. He didn't like all the people looking at him. He was getting tired of playing so many songs each day. Mario began to sense this unhappiness and he said out loud that he wished the cricket had never came to New York of he wasn't going to be happy.
Chester made his mind up to go home. He said goodbye to his friends. They promised to visit each other someday. Chester took the train back to Connecticut.
Mario found Chester missing the next morning, he knew that the cricket must've heard what he said and headed for home.
Suggestions for Classroom Use: This book could be used to introduce fantasy to the classroom.