The story opens with a young boy, named Mario Bellini, working the night shift at his family’s struggling newsstand, down in a subway station. While he is trying to sell magazines and old papers to commuters, he hears a strange noise, a chirping sound. It is a sound that does not belong down in the subway, or even in New York City. Mario follows the sound and finds a small cricket. He decides, after some pleading with his mother, that the cricket will be his new pet and live in the newsstand, in a tiny matchbox.