In Presnar’s (Being Boots, 2014, etc.) children’s book, an ant encounters scary creatures while searching a house for a safe place to live.
Timmy is a new ant scout in charge of finding his colony a dry space away from the rain. He wears khaki pants sewed by his mother, a headlamp, goggles, and boots on four of his six legs (the others hold his lunch and a compass). He’s nervous about his first excursion, but the other ants goad him on. As their underground tunnel fills with water, Timmy slips, slides, and digs his way up into the grass. He reaches a house and finds a way in through a small hole in a concrete wall: “Go in! Be Brave!” says a voice inside him. Although he’s scared of the unknown, he explores every level of the house by climbing stairs, cables, and power lines. At each turn, he bumps into frightening creatures: spiders and their sticky webs, a hairy dog, a crazy cat, a dirty rat, and diving bats. He wants to save the day, but it’s clear that this house isn’t safe for his colony. Fortunately, the rain finally stops, the sun comes out, and Timmy’s friends and family consider him a hero anyway. Author and illustrator Presnar writes in an introduction that she created this story to help one of her own grandchildren face his fear of crawling insects. Her hand-drawn illustrations are colorful and cute and have plenty of homey details; for example, water pours from the house’s gutters, sweet rolls sit on the kitchen counter, and the cat lounges on a pretty, flower-patterned bedspread. She doesn’t usually draw Timmy to scale—he’s about the same size as a dustpan hanging in the basement—but this doesn’t detract from the overall story. Save for a couple of awkwardly arranged lines (such as, “he hoped the other ants were done with all the things they pleaded”), the rhymes are fun, and they’re appropriate for elementary school–age readers. Timmy’s adventure brings an important lesson for young readers to life: not only should you confront your fears, but you should also consider others’ perspectives while doing so.
Kids will think twice before smooshing the next bug they see after reading this engaging story.