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

Overview

Artfully retold by a renowned poet and illustrated with energy and charm by a Caldecott Medalist, this twist on an Aesop fable is as witty as it is satisfying.

Every year the Grasshoppers sing and play their instruments and the Ants work in rhythm to the music. The crops come up smoothly, and the Ants bring in the harvest to the Grasshoppers’ beat. But when winter comes, the Ants turn their backs on the Grasshoppers, and Jimmy Grasshopper finds this unfair. He’s hired Robin, ...

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Overview

Artfully retold by a renowned poet and illustrated with energy and charm by a Caldecott Medalist, this twist on an Aesop fable is as witty as it is satisfying.

Every year the Grasshoppers sing and play their instruments and the Ants work in rhythm to the music. The crops come up smoothly, and the Ants bring in the harvest to the Grasshoppers’ beat. But when winter comes, the Ants turn their backs on the Grasshoppers, and Jimmy Grasshopper finds this unfair. He’s hired Robin, Robin, Robin, and Wren to sue Abigail and Nestor Ant for what he deserves — R-E-S-P-E-C-T — and a one-half share of the harvest. But will a jury of his peers agree about the worth of art?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

"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)

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School Library Journal

Gr 2-5- "The Ant and the Grasshopper" is Aesop's moralistic story about working hard in order to reap rewards. In this version, Grasshopper finds himself shut out of a share of the harvest once again and decides to sue the Ants. After all, he serenaded them as they worked all summer long and it was the rhythm of his music that helped them stay on task and bring in a significant harvest. The Ants never actually asked him to play, though, did they? Lawyers take the case and the fable's focus shifts from the value of hard work to the important place that art holds in our lives. The book is reminiscent of Toni and Slade Morrison's Who's Got Game? The Ant or the Grasshopper? (S & S, 2007), and both titles lend themselves to a serious debate about the value of art. Pairing the two, given their different endings, would enrich the discussion greatly. This version would make a powerful reader's theater for students to role-play following discussion. Raschka's watercolors keep this story solidly in the realm of fable while Giovanni's words make it somewhat more realistic. This version of the story would work well across the elementary grades because of its length and the sophistication of theme.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Kirkus Reviews
In a stout defense of the value of art, Giovanni literally puts the ants on trial for leaving the grasshopper out in the cold. Seeking "R.E.S.P.E.C.T."-plus half of the defendants' summer bounty-Jimmy Grasshopper and his team of avian lawyers bring Nestor and Abigail Ant (who have their own legal team) into a woodland courtroom presided over by Judge Oscar Owl. Both sides present compelling, eloquent, relatively lengthy arguments: on the one hand about the importance and benefits of music (standing in for all of the arts), and on the other about supposed obligations imposed by unasked-for services and the rights of workers to the fruits of their physical labors. Rendered in curling brushstrokes, Raschka's animal figures dress and stand as humans, though they crowd so close to each other that they tend to blend into shimmering, impressionistic tableaux. Before closing with an unlikely feel-good ending the jury reaches a verdict, but readers-children too, though the author more pointedly addresses parents, politicians and school administrators-may want to continue the discussion. (Folklore. 9-11, adult)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763630218
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/13/2008
  • Pages: 56
  • Sales rank: 603,211
  • Age range: 3 months - 18 years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni is the author of the award-winning bestseller ROSA, illustrated by Bryan Collier, as well as ON MY JOURNEY NOW: LOOKING AT AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY THROUGH THE SPIRITUALS and many other books for children and adults. A University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, Nikki Giovanni lives in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Chris Raschka has illustrated many celebrated picture books, including the poetry anthologies A POKE IN THE I and A KICK IN THE HEAD, edited by Paul B. Janeczko, as well as the Dylan Thomas classic A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES. The recipient of both a Caldecott Medal and a Caldecott Honor, Chris Raschka lives in New York.

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