cover image The Grasshopper's Song: An Aesop's Fable Revisited

The Grasshopper's Song: An Aesop's Fable Revisited

Nikki Giovanni, , illus. by Chris Raschka. . Candlewick, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3021-8

“Every year the same thing happens. The Grasshoppers sing, the Ants work in rhythm, the crops come up smoothly, and when winter comes, the Ants turn their backs.” So claim four attorneys in Giovanni's (On My Journey Now ) revision of Aesop's fable, a shrewd evaluation of the value of art. Jimmy Grasshopper hires the firm of Robin, Robin, Robin and Wren to sue Nestor and Abigail Ant. The trial begins in spring, presided over by Judge Owl and a jury of mammals, birds and insects. For all her amusing animal characters, Giovanni investigates complex issues. “Of course my clients enjoyed [Grasshopper's songs]. Who doesn't enjoy a clown?” says the Ants' lawyer. “Must everything be in the marketplace?” counters the Grasshopper, who performed without a written contract. To illustrate Giovanni's detailed and insightful prose, Raschka (Grump Groan Growl , reviewed below) creates evocative, earth-tone watercolors that suggest camouflage; his dapple-brown images set the scenes in forest undergrowth. Little litigants and their elders will enjoy mulling over the debate. All ages. (May)