A RUSTLE IN THE GRASS by Robin Hawdon

A RUSTLE IN THE GRASS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rabbits, moles, badgers, pigs, and other articulate fauna have waddled or trotted through fictional tributes to animal ethics--but this one is a new low, evolutionally and otherwise: Hawdon's heroes are creepy-crawling ants--hard workers, true, yet difficult to whomp up much sympathy for. The focus here is on a happy community of black ants, threatened with imminent invasion by a fascistic horde of murderous red ants. But the black colony is slow to react--because its three bravest ants (Dreamer, Snake's Tongue, and Joker) are off on a dangerous scouting mission. . . and because of several other domestic troubles. First, the workers are agitating for Council representation along with the soldiers and elders: ""We have . . . no influence in any way over the decisions that condition our own lives,"" explains the dignified Five Legs. (The ants' deliberations rather resemble a co-op tenants' meeting.) Then the colony is attacked by Tawny Killer Bird--who must be vanquished by the mighty military leader Black Sting. Meanwhile, the three scouting ants have frightening adventures: a fight with a spider (yech!), imprisonment by the red ants, and a scarifying meeting with their leader--a personality exerting a ""massive implacability, a total assumption of omnipotent right and authority."" But sensitive super-ant Dreamer survives the expedition, returning to the threatened colony with his metaphysical musings. (He mulls over the stories--with tedious morals attached--of the ""Still One."") So, as the battle approaches, it's Dreamer who figures out how to use the technology of the ""Giant Two-Legs"" (that's us) to fry the oncoming red army. Readers with limitless affection for waving mandibles might want to give this arch, pompous whimsy a try--but most will feel alternately bored and antsy, with an overwhelming urge to step firmly on the Still One. . . and reach for the nearest supply of insecticide.

Pub Date: April 8th, 1985
Publisher: Dodd, Mead