There’s a new version of the book Cecily Cicada by Kita Helmetag Murdock & Patsy Helmetag for 2021. Some of you might remember the original version with the purple cover. Look for the mini-interview at the end of the article.
A delightful book, written by a mother/ daughter before the 17-year cicada emergence of 2004. They wrote it to ease the insect anxiety of their 3-year-old granddaughter/daughter when they learned the cicadas were coming. It tells the miraculous life of a special 17-year cicada named Cecily in an endearing way. Beautifully illustrated and fun. Patsy Helmetag has re-illustrated the original edition for a bright new look for the cicada emergence of 2021.
Q: What inspired you to write a book about a cicada?
Kita: My mom and I originally wrote Cecily Cicada in 2004, when the Brood X cicadas were about to emerge in Washington, D.C. My then two-year-old daughter was terrified of all bugs, and I was terrified of how she would react when her world was suddenly full of them! We were driving to visit my sister in North Carolina that spring when we had the idea to write a book to ease her fears. Without anything to write on (and without smartphones – times have changed!), we started by writing the first lines in rhyme on the back of a cereal box. By the time we returned home from the trip, we knew we had a book that we wanted to share with all the kids who would be experiencing the cicadas that spring. My mom made the illustrations, and we put the book out into the world. We updated the book for the 2021 Brood X emergence.
Q: Has anyone approached you to make your book into an animated cartoon?
Kita: No, but we wish someone would! It would make a great animated short.
Q: What changes have you made for the 2021 edition of your book?
Patsy: I had so much time during covid that I decided to update all of the illustrations. The new version is brighter and more detailed. We also changed the male singing cicadas to a boy band, from a barbershop quartet, to make them more youthful.
Q: Have you written any other books?
Patsy: I have also written The TransAm Grannies Bicycle Across America and Slothy and Nomi. This past year, during quarantine, I illustrated and co-wrote Squeakestered with my 12-year-old granddaughter.
Kita: I have also written two middle-grade fiction books, Future Flash and Francie’s Fortune.