Ma Jiang and the Orange Ants

Ma Jiang and the Orange Ants

by Barbara Ann Porte, Annie Cannon

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Fierce "orange ants" are kept in the orange groves of China to kill the insects that eat the oranges. Around this centuries-old custom, Porte has strung a tale of a young girl long ago who found a new way to catch and sell the ants. When her father and brothers must serve in the emperor's army, they can no longer climb the trees to collect the ants' nests needed to earn money for the family. Ma Jiang's cleverness saves the family. Cannon's watercolor scenes flood the double pages with the atmosphere of a timeless other place, while suggesting costume and setting of old China. Her lines, used only to emphasize character or pick up a special detail, create a most appealing Ma Jiang and a lovable little brother. The believable tale of family strength is fiction, as stated in the author notes, while giving detailed facts about the actual use of the ants through history to the present. 2000, Orchard Books, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-A story set in long-ago China. Ma Jiang's family earns their living by selling orange ants to farmers who use them to protect their orchards from other destructive insects. The child's father and brothers climb high into the trees to cut down the nests of the fierce biting ants and her mother sells them at market in the rush-mat bags that she weaves. When war is declared, all the men must serve in the emperor's army, leaving Ma Jiang, her mother, and baby brother to fend for themselves. The society discouraged women from learning to climb trees so the family's orange-ant business seems doomed. Ma Jiang is a quick-witted heroine who invents a low-hanging trap after noticing hundreds of ants drawn to a drop of spilled honey. When her father and brothers return home, they applaud her survival skills and creative thinking. Porte deftly blends history and storytelling, including some lovely turns of phrase and subtle humor. Cannon's impressive watercolor, gouache, and sepia-ink illustrations depict the daily life of centuries-old China and capture the changing emotions of the family. A reader's note gives more information on the use of ants in farming both past and present. A captivating tale with a charming heroine who will speak to today's children.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.64(w) x 10.18(h) x 0.02(d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

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