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Deidre's Book Reviews

Two Bad Ants
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Two Bad Ants

Allsburg, Chris Van. 1988.  TWO BAD ANTS.  Boston:
                 Houghton Mifflin Company.  ISBN: 0-395-48668-8
 
 
 
 

Two Bad Ants is a book about two best friend ants that go on a far away journey to find crystals for their queen to eat.  When the ants reached the crystals, they decided to stay in the unfamiliar place and enjoy their own crystals.  The unfamiliar place turns out to be a human's home and the crystals are really sugar cubes in a jar.  The ants get stuck in a sugar jar and then find themselves in some dangerous predicaments.  They float through a cup of tea, land in a toaster, down a garbage disposal and finally into a wall plug socket.  The encounter of series make the ants realize that they made a wrong decision and should return home.

 

The story's illustrations help maek the plot that more interesting.   As the ants find themselves inside the kitchen, everything (the appliances, the cup of tea, sink, plug, sugar bowl) appears to be very huge.  The text within the story is very descriptive.  Allsburg never outright writes what each appliance and kitchen item is.  Instead, he uses descriptions like, "glassy curved wall (describing the sink)," "sparkling treasure (describing the sugar)," "boiling brown lake (describing the cup of tea), and "pitch black hole (describing the human's mouth)." 

 

Once the ants realized that their new found home was too hard, it made them see that they needed their colony of ants at their old home.  This story helps children think about why family and why working together is important.  It provides a great way of gaining insight on dealing with what is seen as being good for us, may not always be what is right for us.

 

The long, tall illustrations allow the reader to see what is happening and experience it from an ant's point of view.  To an ant, everything we have is quite large, and overwhelming.  The illustrator's technique in the story is representational because it it photographic in nature.  The ants are drawn extremely small in size in comparison to everything else in the story.  The things the ants see are portrayed as weird in the story.

 

The physical pages of the book help with the plot of the story.  The long pages help with the way everything looks so big and intimidating to the ants, event the grass is tall.  If the pages of the book were not long, it would have been more difficult to illustrate how huge everything seems to the ants.

 

Using horizontal, diagonal, and vertical lines in the illustrations (both curved and straight) helped to communicate to the reader how the ants were tossed, turned, and whirled around while in the kitchen.  A great example, is when the ants were knocked out of the wall socket by the plug.  The lines drawed vertically to the ants portray how and from what direction the ants fly out.  The lines make the reader think of a hard impact hitting the ants.

 

Although I think the illustrations and plot of the story are awesome, there a few difficult words within the story: frightened, unbearably, temperature.  Perhaps these words could have been substitued with easier words for the appropriate reading level.

Updated: Jan. 25, 2005

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