Some children have lemonade stands; the protagonist in this debut promotes ant-walking tours.
Young entrepreneur Amariyah has paper-white skin, a lanky mop of scribbly black hair, and a crooked smile. Copies of this how-to guide are stacked near her booth. The nine-step process, elucidated with tips and rules, makes up the majority of the narrative, starting with finding an ant and introducing yourself: “Don’t be antsy. Ants can smell fear with their ANTennae.” Irregularly formed headings and text look like a child’s writing, adding to the handmade aesthetic. Gray watercolor washes—sometimes fleshed out with trees or buildings—form the backdrop, with spots of color highlighting important details such as the Expert Walker’s chartreuse dress and her grandmother’s magenta nails. Some sections include footnotes that refer to appendices, where readers can learn actual ant anatomy in order to avoid harmful leash placement. At the climax, several spreads reveal what happens when an ant-walker and a ladybug-walker (also paper-white, with spiky black ponytails) become entangled in a colorful snarl of threads: ice cream, friendship, and an insect funeral are elements of the aftermath. Luckily, the backmatter also covers respectful burials. While not everyone will be drawn to the gray palette, the occasional sense of emptiness, and the disheveled caricatures, budding entomologists (and plenty of regular kids) will delight in the focus on these commonly seen insects.
Be prepared for leash requests—so convincing is this guidebook. Teachers may also appreciate it as a humorous model when explaining elements of informational text. (appendices, glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)