Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 26, 2017

Book Giveaway – Cricket in the Thicket – Carol Murray

Congratulations to author Carol Murray on her new book CRICKET IN THE THICKET.
It makes its debut on May 9th, 2017. It’s a picture book that uses the happy combination of poetry and non-fiction. Each of the twenty-nine light-hearted poems is accompanied by a text box at the bottom of the page, filled with interesting facts about the bug, be it insect, arachnid, or crustacean. Information can also be found within the poems and in a glossary in the back of the book. The beautiful and eye-catching illustrations of Melissa Sweet build on the words of the poems, adding both charm and substance. Suddenly, learning about bugs becomes painless!

Carol has agreed to participate in our book giveaways. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.



A nonfiction picture book of poetry about fascinating insects with accompanying facts, notes, and illustrations by the Caldecott-winning Melissa Sweet.

Pray tell us, Mr. Mantis,
Do you pray or simply prey?
Do you scout about for victims
Or fold your hands all day?

In addition to the playful rhyming poems, the supplementary text highlights surprising facts about bugs of all kinds―from familiar ants to exotic dragonflies, cringe-worthy ticks and magnificent fireflies. Melissa Sweet’s collage-inspired mixed-media illustrations beautifully render these creatures and compliment the poems’ whimsical tones. This is an enchanting and informative look at a perennial topic of interest for kids―cool bugs!

A Christy Ottaviano Book


I recently looked through my old email files, searching for my first submission of poems about bugs. Actually, I had to look further – into my collection of old three-ringed notebooks. My first attempt on the subject was delivered before email was the accepted way to send submissions. I snail-mailed a collection of poems entitled, Creepy Crawlers, to an editor I met at a summer workshop. The year was 1997. I’m happy to report that twenty years later, Cricket in the Thicket is finally coming out in the world! The book is being published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. My editor, not the first one I sent to, is the fabulous Christy Ottavanio, whose insight, suggestions, and good humor have been just what I needed.

The manuscript has gone through many changes. The first was the addition of “factoids” on each page; the second, a glossary in the back of the book with more extensive information about each bug. I researched material and especially looked for unusual things about each creature – something to make the information different and fun. My information was fact-checked by many experts in the field, a procedure that I appreciated since my scientific knowledge about bugs was shallow, even though I had tons of first-hand experience.

I’m an outdoor person and live in the wide open spaces of Kansas where most of these critters are readily available. The book is dedicated to my two grown sons. Our family always lived in the country with horses and dogs and cats and all sorts of prairie creatures, including a large assortment of bugs. I have a thank-you in the front of the book to our Dillon Nature Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, which has always been a source of great inspiration.

There were also many changes in the poems themselves. I’m a big believer in revision and have found that revisiting a poem produces better work. “Make Every Word Count” is especially important in poetry. The text is spare, and one word came make a huge difference. (cont.)

Mark Twain said that it can be, “the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” So, I’m happy to rethink a word or rework a line, based on suggestions from an editor, a friend, a fellow writer, even a child. Often the second or third version is better than the first.

Getting this book in shape for publication has been a great experience.  Check out my website it you have some time. It’s, created by the expert webmaster, Kathy Temean. There’s more information and a catchy little video book trailer. I’m even having good times creating songs out of some of the poems. It’s a thrill to have Cricket in the Thicket in hand and ready to be launched. I hope you like it!


I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t reading and writing poetry. Actually, it was an unwritten requirement when I was growing up. In my family, we wrote poems for all occasions. Usually they were humorous with something heart-tugging near the end. The tradition continues to this day and has been passed on to the next generation. Such fun!

I studied English and French in college and taught Speech and English half-time at our community college for about twenty-five years. I was writing all along, just because I loved doing it, with no goal toward publication. That all changed when my husband, Max, and I found ourselves with an empty nest. I went back to school, got a Masters in English, and fell in love (again) with classic poetry – not just hearts and flowers and drama, but the humorous, sometime outlandish poems that “real poets” wrote, usually found in letters in the back of the Norton Anthologies.

That led to lots of reading and the discovery of so many gifted writers of poetry for children. I kept writing, still loving it, but this time with a different goal – a children’s book or two or three – or more. I’ve had some nice successes, plenty of rejections, and have met so many wonderful people. I’m still enjoying the ride!

Best wishes to all of you. Perseverance is the name of the game!

Carol is a published poet and author of several books for children. She has been a teacher for over thirty years with students, aged three years (Wee Wigglers) to ninety-three (Elderhostel). She taught English and Speech at Hutchinson Community College for twenty-five years and has also taught Creative Writing, Poetry, Interpersonal Communications, and Children’s Literature.

She has a BA degree from the University of Kansas, with majors in English and French. Her MA degree is from Wichita State, in English, with an emphasis in British literature and poetry.

Carol lives in Kansas, the heartland of America. She is currently working on a middle grade novel entitled, Cloverleaf. It’s about a rodeo barrel racer named, Angie, and her horse, Lucky.  Her publications include poems in magazines and anthologies, including Highlights for Children, Guideposts for Kids, Phonics through Poetry, Bless the Beasts and Western Horseman.

Carol, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Good Luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This sounds like such an interesting format. I am adding it to my list. Best wishes to you.


  2. Congratulations, Carol! I love the poetry-non-fiction combo!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You had me at the title – can’t wait to see this book! And info boxes! cool. love back matter, text boxes, sidebars… it keeps things connected yet not too much all at once. Like a lunch box with sections…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, thank you for sharing this title and poet. I can’t wait to see more.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks like a perfect fit for a couple of grandsons who love finding critters in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love children’s poetry books. Such a great way to entice kids to become poetry readers their whole lives. This book sounds lots of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wish I had a book like this when I was teaching my fifth graders…Congratulations! Poetry and Science – great combination.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am excited to find this book. I also love the poetry/NF combination you employed. And I love Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. She is a creative genius. Thanks for sticking with a great idea and good luck in the future. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This sounds like an awesome book for my fourth graders! Best of luck with your launch!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Carol, Thanks for sharing! I love how your poems and bite size info blend with the illustrations.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this! Can’t wait to own a copy to read to my granddaughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great illustrations! I think the cover is especially nice, with that wonderful cricket!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the little rhyme in the title and throughout. I’d love to have the book to show my writing buddy. She has never had kids and thinks writing for children is a big mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cool! This sounds like a great book for my great granddaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dear Carol : What a wonderful journey and bio! I loved reading it and found some inspiration, too. This looks like a book right up my alley!
    Shiela Fuller

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This book sounds fantastic. I like the poetry/ nonfiction combination! I always love Melissa Sweet’s illustrations!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. How encouraging to hear about your book’s long journey–persistence pays! Putting your charming book on my to-read list.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is so cute! Great work.


  19. Insects + poetry + Melissa Sweet’s illustrations = a winning picture book. Congrats!


  20. What a wonderful collaboration! I can’t wait to read it.


  21. I love this book! Yay, Carol! And the illustrations by Melissa Sweet are superb!


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