cover image The Grasshopper & the Ants

The Grasshopper & the Ants

Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown, $18 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-40081-7

Fans of Pinkney’s Caldecott-winning The Lion & the Mouse and his other lively re-tellings may wonder how he will treat this fable, which ends ominously for the grasshopper. They need not worry. He begins by populating a lush, leafy world with ants carrying food, giving the insects expressive faces while drawing them with scientific accuracy. The grasshopper, wearing a straw boater, performs on an assortment of musical instruments. “Why labor so long?” he chirps. “It’s summertime.... Come join me in making music!” Autumn comes, then winter blows in; the grasshopper sits miserably in the snow, wrapping two sets of arms around himself to keep warm. He begs food from a family of ants, but they turn him away. A remarkable gatefold spread reveals the ants’ underground dwelling, their stores of food and cozy woodstove shown in cross-section. While Aesop condemns the grasshopper’s inability to put off gratification, Pinkney suggests that the world is better when everyone can follow his or her own gifts. The world needs good planners, but it needs artists, too. Ages 3–6. Agent: Sheldon Fogelman, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (Apr.)