#kidlit How to Walk an Ant

I’ve had this children’s picture book on my shelf for nearly a year and decided it was finally time to review it. Perhaps it took me that long to figure out what to say. Yes, it is that different.

How To Walk An Ant by Cindy Derby is quirky fiction that features our favorite creatures: ants.

My name is Amariyah,
and I am an Expert Walker.
No, I don’t mean I walk perfect,
I mean I walk things.

If that quote makes you laugh — or at least grin — then continue on. If not, then this book probably isn’t for you.

The main part of the book is a “nine-step guide” to walking an ant. After explaining how to find the ant and gain its trust, she says you must attach the leash.

Tie the smallest  bow in the universe then secure the leash between the ant’s thorax and head.

Things go downhill, or possibly uphill, from there. In fact, the humor can be dark at times and Appendix 1 explains how to carry out an ant funeral. Appendix 2 gives young readers some actual ant facts (although the ant anatomy part will probably make you wince).

Cindy Derby is an artist and her illustrations are wildly creative. You can take a peek inside the book at the publisher’s website.

Overall, How To Walk An Ant is likely to  appeal to budding myrmecologists and artists alike. It will certainly give you a lot to smile about, think about, and discuss after reading. Investigate a copy today!

Related:

 

Grade Level : Preschool – 3
ISBN-10 : 1250162629
ISBN-13 : 978-1250162625
Publisher : Roaring Brook Press (March 26, 2019)

 

Have you seen this book? What did you think of it?

#Kidlit New Picture Book about Ants

We all know kids can be wild about ants, too. If that’s the case, they might be interested in a new picture book I found at the library yesterday, Just Like Us! Ants by Bridget Heos and illustrated by David Clark.

 

The book is set up as a series of two-page spreads on different topics such as “Sister Cities” and “Bug Eat Bug Job.” You might not be able to see from the image of the cover above, but each spread features a photograph or two of real ants (photographs by Alex Wild) surrounded by cartoons.

Although the cartoon illustrations may make it look like this isn’t a serious book, don’t be fooled. Serious facts and concepts are discussed, but in a lighthearted way that will attract the most reluctant of readers. Throughout the author compares what ants can do to what humans do, making them more relatable.

What I like is it is not simply a rehash of older books. The author reveals recent scientific discoveries, such as how bigheaded ant larvae process food for the colony or how fire ants build rafts to float on water. That’s nice to see.

If you know a lot about ants, you might quibble about the wording here and there. For example, “all ants in the colony come from one mother” might make you pause if you know about polygyny. However, by and large it is a case of keeping things simple enough for children to grasp readily and it works overall.

Just Like Us! Ants gives an up close and personal look at how ants do things that are remarkably similar to the way humans do, and it is an accurate and informative introduction to the world of ants that is perfect for young readers. Check out a copy today.

Looking for more children’s books about ants? See our growing list (organized by reading level and genre) at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 – 7 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 054457043X
ISBN-13: 978-0544570436

Book Review: Ants of Florida

Today we’re featuring a new resource for ant enthusiasts, Ants of Florida: Identification and Natural History by Dr. Mark Deyrup. It was published in November 2016.

Why Florida?

With 239 known species of ants, Deyrup makes a good case that Florida is a leader in ant diversity, if not “the ‘antiest’ state.” At Archbold Biological Station alone — where he works — researchers have found 128 species. (Of course, it has also been studied more intensively than many other areas).

What’s Inside The Book?

Have you ever been frustrated when an identification guide gives no information about what a given species does or disappointed when authors of natural history books assume the reader can already recognize all the species they discuss? Ants of Florida shows how to combine the two successfully.

Starting with a 12-page Overview of the Ants of Florida, the bulk of the book comprises of Species Accounts of every one of the species of ants currently found in Florida. Each account contains:

  • The scientific name of ant
  • Common name of ant
  • Taxonomy information
  • Distribution
  • A Natural History summary
  • Name Derivation

You may wonder why the author included name derivations for every species, but it’s always enlightening to learn about them. They reveal information both about the history of the species, and about the people who discovered and named them. I have to ask: does it seem like all entomologists also interested in etymology?

Every ant gets equal treatment, but Dr. Deyrup admits he is partial to ants in the genus Strumigenys.

(Photograph of Strumigenys rogeri from www.Antweb.org under license Creative Commons License)

Back matter includes a Checklist of Florida Ants, Literature Cited, Plates, Distribution Maps, and an incredibly comprehensive Index. With a small font and dense text in over 400 pages, there is a lot packed into this book.

The 90 plates of illustrations are particularly well done with an emphasis on key characteristics used to distinguish similar species. The first two plates show morphological terms applicable to all ants.

Is This Book For You?

Although pricier than a standard hardback novel, in terms of density and value of information this book is a huge bargain.

You will obviously want a copy is you live in Florida or anywhere in the southeastern United States, for that matter. You will probably also want a copy if you ever intend to visit Florida or the southeastern United States. Let’s face it, after you see this book, you will want to visit Florida.

What about for the rest of us? Does the book have a broader appeal?  Consider:

  1. A number of the species covered have widespread distributions, such as the Patagonian rover ant, Brachymyrmex patagonicus, the carpenter ant Camponotus pennsylvanicus or the crazy ant, Paretrechina longicornis.
  2. Even for those ants found only in Florida, it may be useful to compare them to similar species found in your region.
  3. By reading it, you can learn a lot about ants in general. For example, Dr. Deyrup points out on page 205 that some genera of ants aren’t commonly found in warm humid climates, such as Lasius, Formica, and Myrmica.
  4. It gives a glimpse into the lives of people who collected and named ants in Florida, as well as the scientists who research them.

The bottom line is that Ants of Florida: Identification and Natural History is a comprehensive, well-organized, and informative resource. If you’re wild about ants like we are, you’ll want to pick up a copy.

Hardcover: 437 pages
Publisher: CRC Press (November 9, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1498754678
ISBN-13: 978-1498754675

The Author:

Biodiversity with Dr. Mark Deyrup: Archbold Biological Station, Part One from Archbold Biological Station on Vimeo.

Disclosures: This book was provided by the publisher or review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Gifts for Someone Wild About Ants

So, what kind of presents do you get for someone who is Wild About Ants?

workers-ahead-sign_0251How about a “Caution Workers Ahead” sign for their office?

Everyone likes a t-shirt.

eusocial-t-0257Even better, why not one that says “Eusocial” on the front…

anti-social-t-0266and “Anti-Social” on the back.

These gifts were from Wild Cotton by Atlas Screen Printing, 131 S.E. 10th Ave., Gainesville, FL  32601.  Full disclosure:  my husband is a friend of the owner.

For the bookshelf, try Ants of Florida: Identification and Natural History* by Mark Deyrup.

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

It’s a bit pricey, but a useful resource.

Florida seems to be the place for ant-themed stuff this year.

Have you received any ant-themed gifts this year?