MA JIANG AND THE ORANGE ANTS by Barbara Ann Porte

MA JIANG AND THE ORANGE ANTS

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 9

KIRKUS REVIEW

Porte and Cannon previously collaborated on Tale of a Tadpole (1997); this time their focus is on a different sort of tiny creature: orange ants, who play an important role in an original tale set in ancient China. Ma Jiang is a little girl from a small village who lives with her parents, older brothers, and baby brother, Bao. Her father and brothers keep busy climbing trees to capture nests of orange ants, used by orange growers to keep pests away from the fruit. Jiang’s mother sells the ants in the market while Jiang cares for her baby brother. When her father and older brothers are called away to fight in a war (and work on the Great Wall), Jiang and her mother have no ants to sell, and they must struggle to survive on the small amount her mother can earn selling woven bags and baskets. Jiang and little Bao accidentally discover that all ants like honey, and Jiang devises a new way to trap the orange ants using honey and one of her mother’s woven bags, thus restoring her family’s finances. The family is reunited when her father and brothers return in time to celebrate the New Year’s festival with a traditional feast. Porte’s story is well-written and accurately researched (source notes appended), but Cannon’s expressive illustrations done in watercolor, gouache, and sepia ink take center stage. Teachers of kindergarten through third grade will find this an interesting story to integrate into thematic studies of ants, insects in general, or China. A fascinating story to read for the Chinese New Year, too, perhaps with a slice of orange for each young listener. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-531-30241-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2000




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