"Little Cricket" details the impact of the Vietnam War on a Hmong family. The Vangs live peacefully in a small Laotian farming community prior to the arrival of North Vietnamese soldiers. The soldiers destroy crops, burn homes, terrorize the women, and march the men off to war against their will. 9-year-old Kia Vang watches helplessly as her father disappears into the jungle with the Communist army. Kia and her older brother, Xigi, flee to a refugee camp in Thailand with their mother and grandparents. The family spends 3 years in the camp as they prepare to move again, hoping to begin a new life of opportunity and prosperity in America.
A clerical error sadly prevents Kia's mother and grandmother from receiving clearance to journey across the sea. Under the sponsorship and guidance of a Christian church, Kia, Xigi, and their grandfather settle into a small apartment in St. Paul, Minnesota, eagerly awaiting the day when the family will be reunited once and for all.
But life in the new land offers the Vangs as many hardships as comforts. Grandfather Vang retreats into self-isolation, refusing to learn the new ways and the new language. While Grandfather clings to tradition, Xigi can't seem to shake it off fast enough. Kia, left to strike a balance between the old life and the new, takes refuge in gardening and tries to sell the bumper-crop at a local farmer's marketóbut this optimistic enterprise is dashed when racial prejudice prevents her from making a single sale. Worst of all, Kia's greenthumb efforts fail to improve her relationship with Grandfather and Xigi.
When Grandfather falls ill and Xigi racks up a gambling debt, Kia finds help in unexpected places. The Vang's neighbors include a quirky lady named Hank, her reclusive son Sam, and their pet monkey. Though eccentric, Hank and Sam offer Kia the warmth and friendship necessary to bridge the transition from Laos to Minnesota. The kindnesses of Sam and Hank touch Grandfather and Xigi, inspiring reciprocation. In this way, Kia learns that something more than potatoes and leaf lettuce, something very familiar grows in the new and unfamiliar worldósomething like love.
This report prepared by Tracie Amirante