Listen With Others

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Listener No 4702: Tunnel Vision by Chalicea

Posted by Listen With Others on 1 Apr 2022

Guest Solver’s Blog by Little Hare

I have always thought that children’s books have lots of potential for crosswords. Some are incredibly dark (think the Brothers Grimm — very much worth revisiting as an adult); others are lighter but still full of thematic material.

But I’m getting ahead of myself — we have to solve a batch of clues before we get to the theme. What a nice set this was — and not so easy. As always with Chalicea, they were fair and read beautifully. There were some really devious misdirections, which always raise a smile, and nicely disguised extra letters. It took me a good while to parse AVATAR at 4d (Atop Irish hill, lived years before incarnation (6) — Tara hill was new to me). And I very much liked “Transcendental poet” in 15a, yielding PI and a poetical usage indicator. It’s always nice when real care is put into clues, rather than cluing being the afterthought that delivers the endgame. It makes it such an enjoyable exercise — and, after all, these things are supposed to be fun.

And speaking of the endgame, VERY HUNGRY and BUTTERFLY eventually emerge, as does (appropriately) the greedy little CATERPILLAR, tunnelling through an APPLE, some PEARS, PLUMS, a LOLLIPOP and an ORANGE. My three-year old son absolutely loves this classic by Eric Carle (and he’s very grateful to the person who gifted it — you know who you are!). Those additional letters instruct us to SHADE TITLE, HIS ORIGIN, DORMANT STAGE AND WHAT EMERGES — I needed those extra letters to reverse solve some of the final clues that had been foxing me (not least the afore-mentioned AVATAR). All that is left to do (I think) is shade in the extra items — the EGG and the PUPA).

What a lovely visual representation of the theme. And perfect timing as (so Google tells me) March 20 is International Very Hungry Caterpillar Day. Who would have thought it?

No need to search very hard for the customary alcohol reference, as we can see the caterpillar wiggling underneath GENEVA in plain sight. Just as well that the little critter didn’t go through it — presumably that would have given us a Very Hungover Caterpillar.

Thanks, Chalicea. Really enjoyed that.


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