Thames & Hudson
If you stop by an anthill and have time to watch the activity, you’ll discover that ants are fascinating creatures. The trouble is though that we cannot see what is going on inside.
Author/artist Joanna Rzezak shows us on her opening spread of this large format book. Thereon is a cross-section of an anthill where we see chambers connected by lots of branching tunnels, some of the former containing ants, while others hold such things as aphids, leaves and seeds needed as food by the ants.
The factual narrative is brief and light-hearted for we’re told ‘there is a little ant with red socks hiding in every picture in this book’ and asked to try and locate same.
A smell tells the ants it’s time to start walking, where we know not, and we then follow the long line of tiny creatures as they march single file through bracken, over fungi and among fallen leaves. All the while the playful red-socked ant comments and sometimes gets sidetracked.
Surprisingly for this reader, the ants traverse the edge of a pond using lily pads as stepping-stones, fortunately taking a route behind the large green frogs with protruding tongues just waiting for some tasty insects.
Their journey takes them through a field containing a variety of plants in various stages of flowering and fruiting, full of other insects including the caterpillar of a swallowtail butterfly; then beneath a large spider’s web
and even over the body of a huge sleeping bear.
Eventually they reach a tree and up its trunk they climb, carefully avoiding an owl resting therein, along a branch they continue; but this is nature so what is that drumming sound and what is that long pinkish worm-like protrusion.
The food chain must be kept working and so a large bird is left to utter the punch line. Not quite the last word though – that is left for the red-socked ant …
Factual snippets about the flora and fauna encountered on the journey will definitely keep readers interested in the natural history side, while curiosity will drive them forward as they follow the ants’ journey to its end.