THE LIFE OF A QUEEN by Coletee- Illus. Portal


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This is a picture story for young children that exhibits many facets of the storyteller's art. At its simplest level it is straight nature information on the life cycle of a queen ant. Her role is to mate once and establish a new community from the resulting eggs which produce both workers and soldiers to carry on the manifold activities of the ant hill. The tunnels, granaries and egg hatcheries which are under constant care and construction are illustrated as a tiny detailed underground city, slightly humanized. The fragile delicacy of ant life is caught in the author/illustrator's tempera technique and her use of the dominant color combinations of brown, orange and green which make the underground scenes both warm and vibrant without departing from honest natural history reporting, the story of this anthill is given a deeper meaning than most picture story books attempt. When the new city was at its most prosperous, the worker ants became degenerate through the over-consumption of the heady nectar milked from plant lice. Invading soldier ants found little resistance from the dissipated community from which another queen will escape to carry on the species elsewhere. The fable aspect is well done without being overdone.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1964
Publisher: Braziller