Caldecott Medalist Pinkney returns to Aesop, recasting the familiar fable as a meditation on the importance of sustaining both body and soul.
As industrious ants ferry seeds and leaves to their colony throughout spring, summer and fall, Grasshopper—a veritable one-bug band with banjo, drum kit and concertina—fishes, frolics and plays. Though he exhorts them to join in, the single-minded ants stick to their tasks. Grasshopper welcomes “the sparkle of first snow,” making “snow angels and snow-hoppers.” In the lonely cold, his bright mood, colorful markings and checkered vest grow dim. He peeks into the ants’ well-lit abode. A gatefold reveals an underground colony humming with activity: Ants stoke a wood stove, spin fiber from leaves and flowers, and prepare a meal. Compassionate Queen Ant appears at the door, offering Grasshopper hot tea. Cozy concluding spreads show everyone making joyful music within, while back endpapers signal a new role for Grasshopper come spring. Pinkney’s four-season watercolor palette is more vibrant than ever. Grasshopper’s iridescent wings contrast with his scarlet instruments; the ants’ earth-brown bodies anchor spreads brimming with lush flowers or whirling autumn leaves. Pinkney’s delightfully forthright artist’s note identifies Grasshopper as “an artist in his own right.” Acknowledging liberties taken with the ants’ size, he includes a thumbnail depicting the actual, relative size of both ant and grasshopper.
From an unparalleled artist, another brilliant work. (Picture book/folk tale. 3-6)