cover image ANT AND HONEY BEE: What a Pair!


Megan McDonald, , illus. by G. Brian Karas. . Candlewick, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1265-8

Insect buddies Ant and Honey Bee think they've come up with an ingenious joint costume for Cricket's dress-up party: a washer and dryer, complete with sound effects ("Blub! Blub!" and "Buzzzzz!," respectively). They discover that creativity, however, has its drawbacks. The boxy costumes are bulky, passersby are stumped by the concept ("Look! Two dice!" says Beetle; Mrs. Spider mistakes them for dancing computers), and when the clouds open up, Ant and Honey Bee's disguises soon transform into "soggy blobs of wet cardboard." But, as those familiar with her Judy Moody books well know, McDonald is a big believer in the power of spunk and the importance of making lemonade out of lemons. "She's a—beehive !" says Ant, when the two finally reach Cricket's house. "And she's an anthill !" responds Honey Bee triumphantly. While their transformation into appliances and consequent comic travails should prompt numerous smiles from young readers, Ant and Honey Bee, unfortunately, aren't particularly compelling to look at. Karas's (Raising Sweetness ) wispy, mixed-media renderings seem more like studies for characters rather than fully rendered versions. Even the author's customary no-nonsense, peppy prose seems a little soft around the edges here. Still, there's enough energy and genial humor to keep the book skipping along to its conclusion, and to prep readers for what will almost certainly be a follow-up adventure. The inside of the dust jacket includes "buggy" recipes and game ideas for a party of one's own. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)