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The Ant or the Grasshopper? (Who's Got Game? Series #1)

The Ant or the Grasshopper? (Who's Got Game? Series #1)

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by Toni Morrison, Slade Morrison, Pascal Lemaitre (Illustrator)

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison serve up the first in a series of six illustrated books retelling Aesop's fables for children of all ages. The Morrisons' fresh rethinking opens up these classic tales, pumping life into their often rigid morals.

In The Ant or the Grasshopper?, the Ant (Kid A) and the Grasshopper (Foxy G) are


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison serve up the first in a series of six illustrated books retelling Aesop's fables for children of all ages. The Morrisons' fresh rethinking opens up these classic tales, pumping life into their often rigid morals.

In The Ant or the Grasshopper?, the Ant (Kid A) and the Grasshopper (Foxy G) are hip urban buddies who hang out in the park, shooting hoops and grooving on the music Foxy G makes with his wings -- until the weather starts to change, and Kid A decides it's time to get ready for the winter. But when the snow comes, Foxy G's wings won't make music any more. Will Kid A let him inside?

Pascal Lamaître's illustrations perfectly capture this hip, laid back pair of insects, and what happens when their values make them part ways.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, her son Slade, and illustrator Pascal Lemaître -- the team who brought you The Book of Mean People -- band together again for a contemporary take on Aesop's fable about the ant and the grasshopper.

All summer long, carefree Foxy G has been making wonderful music with his wings, while industrious Kid A has spent the time preparing for winter. When a hungry and tired Foxy G shows up at Kid A's during the winter, the ant cops an attitude, telling Foxy he's wasted his time "on those funky wings," making him "feel like a jerk," and not letting him inside. But Foxy stands up for himself. "I'm an artist, that's what I do!" he says, claiming, "Art is hard work. It just looks like play." By the end, the two quarreling insects haven't reached a solution, but Foxy gets the last word. As he takes off in the snow, he asks this provocative question: "Name, fame, blame, shame -- the question is: Who's got game?"

This first installment of the Who's Got Game? series is narrated in a hip, streetwise voice that departs from the typical tone found in picture books. Illustrated with Lamaître's urban-sweet comic-strip frames, the Morrisons' feisty retelling of the classic tale will set readers to wondering if Kid A (the ant) really should be so moralistic about hard work and if the music created by Foxy G (the grasshopper) just might deserve more respect. Whether readers agree with Kid A or Foxy G, this balanced argument will at least get them thinking about the role of art and creativity in their lives. Matt Warner

Publishers Weekly
Aesop's freewheeling Grasshopper and industrious Ant become "Foxy G and his ace Kid A" in this witty, hip-hop-inspired update by the Morrisons and Lemaoetre (who previously teamed up in The Book of Mean People). In comic-book panels and voice bubbles, snazzily hand-lettered by the illustrator, the friends rhyme and loaf in a Brooklyn-esque bug city. Kid A, a slouchy orange insect, loves hanging out and shooting hoops with Foxy G, a talented singer who rubs his gray wings to make music. But "one hot day/ as they lay in the shade/ Kid A turned to his friend and said:/ Got to split, Foxy. The summer's been fun./ Time to dump this place, get back in the race./ There's a lot of work to be done." Foxy thinks creativity is more important. "I have to groove, move, prove, disprove," he brags as Kid A leaves. Kid A dances to Foxy's tunes while he does his chores, but when winter comes, he munches a doughnut while Foxy begs for a crumb. "I quenched your thirst/ and fed your soul/ you can't spare me/ a doughnut hole?" Foxy asks in disbelief. He makes a case for the artist's role in society, but at the ambiguous conclusion, he still shivers in the snow. The authors wisely leave it to readers to answer the title question. Similarly, in the revised fable Who's Got Game? Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Appearing in graphic format, this updated version of the fable features Kid A, a hardworking ant, and Foxy G, a musical grasshopper. Kid A did his chores, shopped in the stores, fixed the stove, raked the leaves and covered the shrubs so they wouldn't freeze. He heaped and piled and baked and stored. Grasshopper's music surrounded him and kept his feet dancing as he worked. When winter howled into town, Foxy G crawled out of his cardboard box and trudged to Kid A's house. When Kid A refused to let him in, the grasshopper reminded him of how much he had enjoyed the music. "Art is work. It just looks like play." Throwing himself on the ant's mercy, Foxy G begged for sympathy. Kid A remained firm and Foxy G walked slowly into the storm with no place to go. The comic strip format and the text written in verse soften the satirical message of the tale. The story is written in cursive handwriting, which may be difficult for some children to read. 2003, Simon & Schuster,
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5-Rhythmic verse, comic-strip panels, and a bug-populated city are the main elements in this modern twist on an Aesop fable. Kid A, an ant, leaves his grasshopper friend, Foxy G, to return to work: "Got to split, Foxy. The summer's been fun. Time to dump this place, get back in the race. There's a lot of work to be done." Foxy stays on the streets ("I have to groove, move, prove, disprove-") to play music "clear and wild." When the grasshopper's wings freeze, he shamefully goes to the ant's door. Recalling Leo Lionni's Frederick (Knopf, 1967), Foxy argues that "art is work/It just looks like play," but his friend rejects him. Strong rhythms and occasional use of slang match the jazzy world depicted in the artwork. Some rhymes seem forced, but in general the poetry is effective, flowing through narration and dialogue. The handwritten cursive text may be challenging for younger readers. Lemaitre's cartoons help with the story's pace, and the switch from small panels to full-page scenes effectively accentuates dramatic moments. The book ends with two wordless illustrations, one showing a not-so-sure-of-himself ant, opposite a look at the grasshopper trudging through the snow. A final scene repeats the grasshopper view, this time depicted as a snow globe, with the phrase "Who's Got Game?" underneath. Readers drawn into the initially lighthearted tale are neatly led to a conclusion that encourages them to ponder and discuss the value and importance of art.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Who's Got Game? Series , #1
Product dimensions:
8.54(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize–winning American author, editor, and professor. Her contributions to the modern canon are numerous. Some of her acclaimed titles include: The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature 1993.

Slade Morrison was born in Ohio and educated in New York City. He studied art at SUNY Purchase and collaborated with his mother, Toni Morrison, on five books for children.

Pascal Lemaitre illustrated Toni and Slade Morrison's bestselling Who's Got Game?: Three Fables, as well as many other books for children. He and his family divide their time between Brussels, Belgium, where he teaches illustration, and Brooklyn, New York. Visit him online at PascalLemaitre.com.

Brief Biography

Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan
Date of Birth:
February 18, 1931
Place of Birth:
Lorain, Ohio
Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

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The Ant or the Grasshopper? 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This woman is in desperate need of mental reconstruction. Her sick views of the white race and the world in general will taint your child's morale. They will cease to be the same innocent child you knew before they picked up Toni Morrison's sad excuse for literature. Beware of her ability to claw her way into your soul and devour every fond memory you have ever experienced.