Ant Bully

John Nickle, Author
John Nickle, Author Scholastic Press $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-590-39591-5
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-439-85116-9
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Miniature worlds can be big attractions, as the films Antz and A Bug's Life show. Unfortunately, this insect adventure, concerning a boy who mistreats ants, provides no basis for its fantasy plot and evokes little sympathy for its hero. Lucas, who wears a goofy propeller cap and nerdish glasses, suffers the taunts of a tough kid named Sid. After Sid blasts him with a water hose, Lucas gets a squirt gun and does the same to a colony of ants. Alas, Lucas is no match for his would-be victims, who use a magical green potion to reduce him to their size and then sentence him to hard labor. (""Don't you realize how long and hard we work to build what you destroy in seconds?"" huffs the Queen, who lounges on a pink chaise, smoking through a golden cigarette holder and nibbling gumdrops.) Once Lucas learns a lesson in community, the ants restore him to his original proportions, then devise a predictable comeuppance for his hose-toting nemesis (shrinkage, of course). Nickle's fine-line acrylic illustrations accent the slender digits and mandibles of the black ants; except for the long-lashed Queen Ant, the identical drones, wasps and spider here are painted in entomological detail. The author credibly anthropomorphizes ant societies, stressing equality and cooperation. Yet the facile conclusion denies Lucas a chance to succeed on human terms. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
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