The news travels swiftly through the tunnels of the ant world. A marvelous crystal has been discovered in a farway place. The queen of the ant colony declares that the crystal is the most delicious substance she has ever eaten. Eager to please their queen, a group of ants set out to bring back all the crystals they can carry. But two of the ants are overwhelmed by the treasure they find in the alien world of crystals. When their fellow ants return, they stay behind. And so begins a terrible ordeal. Danger lies on every side. Are the crystals worth such a risk?
The three-time Caldecott medalist tells the tale of two ants who decide to leave the safety of the others to venture into a danger-laden kitchen.
In this new book by Van Allsburg, twice a winner of the Caldecott Medal, the
theme of an outsider's point-of-view (touched upon most recently in his The
Stranger ) is expanded. Accustomed to the orderly and uneventful life in the
ant hole, all the ants enter the bizarre world of a kitchen in the search for
sugar crystals for the queen. Two greedy ants stay behind in the sugar bowl,
eating their fill and then falling asleep. Their slumbers end when a giant
scoop drops them into a sea of boiling brown coffee. Further mishaps include a
heated stay in the toaster, a hazardous swirl in the garbage disposal and a zap
in an electrical outlet. When the ant troops return, the two bad ants gladly
rejoin their friends and head for the safety of home. In this work, the hazards
of nonconformity are clear. The narration has the feel of early newsreels where
the broadcaster described unknown phenomena in clipped, clinical language: ``A
strange force passed through the wet ants. They were stunned senseless and
blown out of the holes like bullets from a gun.'' The resilient ants and the
eerie landscapes are portrayed in strong black-and-white images, enriched by
deep brown, purple, slate, gold and steely blue colors; Van Allsburg, playing
with perspective, creates marvelous contrasts and images. But although Two Bad
Ants is visually different from its predecessors, it shares the same strong
style, dazzling artwork and whimsy that characterizes all of the artist's work.
Ages 3-8. (Oct.)
"Children will be fascinated by the ant-eye view that Van Allsburg provides of common everyday items." Booklist, ALA