The third book in Michael Clay Thompson’s Dickens Trilogy, The Cricket on the Hearth, is one of Dickens’s Christmas stories and was published in December 1845. The book is divided into chapters called “Chirps.”
Dickens described the novel as "quiet and domestic...innocent and pretty.” Michael Clay Thompson writes that, “Dickens made poor and powerless individuals the central characters of his plots, causing readers to identify with them and feel compassion for their plights.” The Cricket on the Hearth was popular when it was published as a book and also as a play about the ideal Victorian family and home. In the story, John Peerybingle, a slow but honest carrier, lives with his young wife, their baby, and their nursemaid. A cricket chirps on the hearth and acts as a guardian angel to the family. One day a mysterious elderly stranger comes to visit and takes up lodging at Peerybingle's house for a few days. The plot becomes a complex love story that is resolved in time for a festive Christmas.
Michael Clay Thompson’s Dickens Trilogy consists of three “Christmas stories” that Dickens wrote, each with a strong moral message about the contrasting worlds of the rich and poor in Victorian England: A Christmas Carol, The Cricket on the Hearth, and The Chimes: A Goblin Story. The language illustrations in each of the novels help children become more aware of the literary devices that great writers use.