An Ant's Day Off

Overview


"Never stop. Never tarry.

An ant who wastes time

will never marry!"

Bart the sand ant has heard these words for as long as he can remember. Never in the history of antdom has an ant taken a day off.

Still, Bart can't help but wonder what it might be like to see what goes on out there in the big, wide world.

"They'll never let you back in!" warns his best friend, Floyd, ...

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Overview


"Never stop. Never tarry.

An ant who wastes time

will never marry!"

Bart the sand ant has heard these words for as long as he can remember. Never in the history of antdom has an ant taken a day off.

Still, Bart can't help but wonder what it might be like to see what goes on out there in the big, wide world.

"They'll never let you back in!" warns his best friend, Floyd, about leaving the nest. But Bart leaves his mounds of work behind, and discovers just how important it is for an ant to find some time for himself every now and then.

Bonny Becker has written the perfect story for our hectic, overscheduled lives. Nina Laden's illustrations bring the bustling insect world to life with humor and verve.

Having taken a day off from his job moving sand inside the nest, Bart the ant ventures into the outside world, meets other animals, and experiences both danger and fun.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Everything is fairy-tale scale; when Bart cowers behind one of the menacing spear-shaped leaves, he is about half its size, making him more like Tom Thumb than a tiny sand ant. Bart's adventure is filled with peril made more nightmarish by comic details. A bullfrog he encounters, wearing patched bluejeans and croaking ''Row, Row, Row Your Boat,'' has a tongue that arcs out, from one side of the double-page spread to the other, searching for an ant snack. A honeybee scoops Bart up with the pollen from a dandelion where he suns himself. Giant gray bullets of rain pelt him like so many water balloons. — Connie Fletcher
Publishers Weekly
Youngsters who saw the movie Antz will recognize the plot here: a worker ant finds there is more to life than heavy lifting. Bart, a sand ant, spends all his time doing construction jobs underground, in a brown, dim environment. Laden (When Pigasso Met Mootisse) pictures him in a yellow hard-hat, four-armed T-shirt and blue jeans that snugly fit his lower segment; all the ants wear this generic uniform. Bart has ideas of his own, however, and while shifting a "mound of sand... from Tunnel 929B to Tunnel 49A, he glanced up. High above was a glimmer of blue, far and away, and it called to him." To his pal Floyd's dismay, Bart scrambles into the open air. Outdoors, he explores a brook and naps on a sunny dandelion. But when hungry frogs, a zealous honeybee and a rain shower spoil his reverie, he must convince a grouchy guard ant to allow him into the hive. "If you'll pick up that moth wing and make it snappy, I'll let you back in," says the guard, whose mirrored goggles and silver-gray uniform give him a frightening authority. "Always bring back a bit of something.... That's what the others do." Becker's (The Christmas Crocodile) conclusion hints at Orwellian overtones; Bart learns that mysterious "others" take breaks and atone by bringing home souvenirs. Even when Bart happily sneaks out a second time, taking Floyd with him, the impression remains that vacation is something to be stolen. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Bart the sand ant has spent his whole life moving mounds of sand from one tunnel to another in an underground nest. He and the other ants have never seen the sky or felt the rain. One day, Bart feels the outside world beckoning him, and he flees the nest without being noticed. He quickly finds out that the world is full of wonder and joy, and of danger, as he narrowly escapes becoming lunch for a frog and almost drowns in a rain puddle. Bart begins to regret his escapade and heads home. The entrance guard questions him but then reassures him that "sometimes an ant just needs to look at the sky" and looks the other way as Bart gets back to work. After listening all summer to his tales of the sun, rain, and bees, fellow sand ant Floyd decides to go exploring and Bart joins him. The richly colored illustrations of the outside world contrast sharply with the browns and tans of the nest. Deep green grass and bright yellow flowers are seen from an ant's perspective. The insects are dressed as people, complete with hard hats and safety glasses. The message-that it's good to take time for oneself-is not subtle or indirect. Purchase where books with a message are in demand.-Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Brushing off his buddy Floyd’s reproachful slogans--"You must work and work and work some more . . . Happiness is a finished chore!"--Bart does the unheard-of, dropping his shovel and scrambling out of the anthill for a gander at the wide world. Aside from a brief, comfy snooze atop a dandelion, Bart’s day off proves to be not all that relaxing, but after surviving a near-fatal encounter with a frog, a scary but exhilarating flight beneath a bee, and a sudden rain storm, he gains re-entry to the hill thanks to a sympathetic guard who confides that he, too, once took a break. Laden illustrates this pointed message to overscheduled readers with ground-level "Bug’s Life" scenes of four-armed ants in work jeans and hard hats, surrounded by towering leaves and flowers. Refreshed, Bart shares his experiences with Floyd over and over as they toil away underground, then ends up slipping further down that slippery slope by taking another flyer to lead his friend outside. What nerve! (Picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689822742
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Bonny Becker

Bonny Becker is the busy author of half a dozen children's books, including The Christmas Crocodile with Caldecott Medal winner David Small. Ms. Becker either never takes a day off or is always taking the day off, depending on what you think writers are doing when they stare into space. An Ant's Day Off is her second book with Simon & Schuster. She lives with her husband, two children, a dog, and a garden full of tireless ants in Seattle, Washington.
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