BIOGRAPHY OF AN ANT by Hopf Alice

BIOGRAPHY OF AN ANT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Jean Zallinger's delicate, skillfully planned black and green illustrations are both instructive and attractive, and Alice Hopf's biography of one particular Formica rufa is far more interesting than the usual insect life cycle at this level. Rufa (sometimes referred to as ""little Rufa""), a worker, is cared for by nurse ants, rests in a pupa, becomes a nurse herself, is later recruited by a forager ant (""Rufa could tell it was an older worker, for it was much darker than she was and one claw on its front leg was missing"") who trains her to look for sap and insect prey and to milk aphids, and in a climactic battle -- during which old Missing Claw is killed -- Rufa saves a pupa from slavemaking red ants who invade her city. We wonder, however, at the wisdom of such a personalized approach to so thoroughly communal (selfless?) a species, and when little Rufa is credited with deductive reasoning (in her first meeting with Missing Claw) and even a kind of bereavement (""She missed Missing Claw"" after the older worker's death), we're moved again to wonder why -- in an age acquainted with the chemical roots of their behavior -- so many juvenile writers still choose to portray ants with the sentimental/anthropological imagery of their earlier observers.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1974
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Putnam