Monday, August 6, 2012

The Ant and the Grasshopper retold and illustrated by Amy Lowry Poole (2000)

Poole takes Aesop's tale and resets in some non-modern period of China.  The ants and the grasshopper all live in Emperor's Old Summer Palace.  As with Aesop, the ants toil the summer away while the grasshopper sleeps late, the spends his afternoons and evenings dancing and singing for the Emperor and his family.  When winter finally comes, the Court leaves the Summer Palace for their winter home - leaving the grasshopper behind. And, as in Aesop, the "grasshopper huddled beneath the palace eaves and rubbed his hands together in a mournful chirp wishing he had heeded the ant's advice."

Biologically speaking, that's what ants and grasshoppers do all summer long.  Ants look busy - I suppose they really are doing something industrious.    While grasshoppers play music - that is buzz (or chirp?).  The grasshopper is at work though, regardless of the story - he's busy trying to find a mate.  Which seems to be just as important as what ants are doing.

However, we don't have a fable if the ants are being industrious and the grasshopper isn't being lazy and playing all day long.  Seems to me he could have tagged along with the court in this story - Poole's added element leaves a far easier solution.  Because obviously, the ants are never, ever going to help out.  Rude.

This is kind of a shabby story - the title is The Ant (singular) and the Grasshopper but the story is about ants (plural).  What gives?

The Ant and the GrasshopperThe Ant and the Grasshopper by Amy Lowry Poole
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A weak re-telling of the old fable from Aesop.  Poole sets the story in some period of pre-modern China, in the Summer Palace of the Emperor.  Essentially the story is the same - ants are industrious, grasshopper not so much (although that's a debatable part of the story; isn't that saying "art" isn't really work?).  Unlike other versions, in this one the grasshopper is playing and dancing and singing for the Emperor and his court, but they end up leaving for the summer and he's huddled up at the end, wishing he'd been more like the ants.  I think he should have just hitched a ride with the court, which would have solved all of his problems (a hole in this version if you ask me).  In every version of this story, the ants are just plain mean, and this one is no exception.  A shaky story - but nicely illustrated.

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