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Review of The Grasshopper & the Ants

pinkney_grasshopper and the antsThe Grasshopper & the Ants
by Jerry Pinkney; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary   Little, Brown   40 pp.
4/15   978-0-316-40081-7   $18.00   g

Moving right up Maslow’s hierarchy of 
needs, Pinkney transforms Aesop’s harsh 
fable about the consequences of improvi
dence into one celebrating the value of the arts. Unlike his true-to-species characters in his Caldecott-winning The Lion and the Mouse (rev. 11/09), the insects here wear character-revealing garb: Grasshopper sports bow tie and boater, while dutifully toiling ants wear humble headgear (acorn caps, flowers, cabbages). Grasshopper likes romping in autumn leaves and even making snow angels, but it’s his dancing and singing that eventually beguile the ants when, laden with drum and banjo, he begs for shelter. In a poignant wordless sequence, he’s turned away. But then, after conferring in their cozy underground warren (nicely equipped with beds, spinning wheel, a woodstove, and edibles), the ants invite him in. Their queen welcomes him with hot tea, and the story ends with Grasshopper leading a convivial underground songfest. Pinkney’s woodland scenes, in his signature style, teem with recognizable flora, insects, and seasonal activity; once again, there’s a wealth of variety in the endpapers plus both jacket and binding art, none of it to be missed. A genial note apologizes for depicting ants and grasshopper in different scale. No need; it’s all just right as it is.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Joanna Rudge Long About Joanna Rudge Long

Joanna Rudge Long is former editor of Kirkus Reviews and a frequent lecturer on children’s books.

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