Booklist Reviews

A personable grasshopper wearing a straw boater and a leggy ant in an acorn hat square off over the joys of relaxing versus the honest pursuit of hard work in this familiar Aesop's fable. While an army of industrious ants scurry through the forest, collecting seeds and leaves for the winter, Grasshopper would rather sing in his own one-insect band. The color palette changes as the seasons pass, from the blossoms of spring, to the greens of summer, the rusts of autumn, and eventually the sparkles of first snow. Happy ants are inside their tree, while the foldout shows Grasshopper forlornly sitting on his snow-covered drum in the cold. The well-known moral? "Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today!" Caldecott Medal–winning Pinkney's vibrant watercolors portray the lushness and beauty of the natural world in extraordinary detail while conveying the power of music through stunning visual art. Another winner to follow his other renditions of Aesop's fables, The Tortoise & the Hare (2013) and The Lion & the Mouse (2009). HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pinkney's lush style and Aesop's timeless fables are an award-winning combination. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Pinkney transforms Aesop's harsh fable about the consequences of improvidence into one celebrating the value of the arts. Grasshopper's dancing and singing beguile the ants, but when he begs for shelter, he's turned away in a poignant wordless sequence. After conferring in their cozy warren, however, the ants invite him in; Grasshopper leads a convivial songfest. Woodland scenes teem with flora, insects, and seasonal activity.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Moving right up Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Pinkney transforms Aesop's harsh fable about the consequences of improvidence into one celebrating the value of the arts. Unlike his true-to-species characters in his Caldecott-winning The Lion and the Mouse (rev. 11/09), the insects here wear character-revealing garb: Grasshopper sports bow tie and boater, while dutifully toiling ants wear humble headgear (acorn caps, flowers, cabbages). Grasshopper likes romping in autumn leaves and even making snow angels, but it's his dancing and singing that eventually beguile the ants when, laden with drum and banjo, he begs for shelter. In a poignant wordless sequence, he's turned away. But then, after conferring in their cozy underground warren (nicely equipped with beds, spinning wheel, a woodstove, and edibles), the ants invite him in. Their queen welcomes him with hot tea, and the story ends with Grasshopper leading a convivial underground songfest. Pinkney's woodland scenes, in his signature style, teem with recognizable flora, insects, and seasonal activity; once again, there's a wealth of variety in the endpapers plus both jacket and binding art, none of it to be missed. A genial note apologizes for depicting ants and grasshopper in different scale. No need; it's all just right as it is. joanna rudge lon Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews

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 sp ring. 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) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Fans of Pinkney's Caldecott-winning The Lion & the Mouse and his other lively re-tellings may wonder how he will treat this fable, which ends ominously for the grasshopper. They need not worry. He begins by populating a lush, leafy world with ants carrying food, giving the insects expressive faces while drawing them with scientific accuracy. The grasshopper, wearing a straw boater, performs on an assortment of musical instruments. "Why labor so long?" he chirps. "It's summertime.... Come join me in making music!" Autumn comes, then winter blows in; the grasshopper sits miserably in the snow, wrapping two sets of arms around himself to keep warm. He begs food from a family of ants, but they turn him away. A remarkable gatefold spread reveals the ants' underground dwelling, their stores of food and cozy woodstove shown in cross-section. While Aesop condemns the grasshopper's inability to put off gratification, Pinkney suggests that the world is better when everyone can follow his or her own gifts. The world needs good planners, but it needs artists, too. Ages 3–6. Agent: Sheldon Fogelman, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (Apr.)

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School Library Connection

Pinkney creates another visually stunning re-telling of a fable that incorporates the usual plot with double-page spread watercolors. The one-insect band grasshopper is carefree and relentless in his quest to engage the ants in entertaining activities in the natural world surrounding them. As the seasons (and the illustrations to match) change into winter, the grasshopper is left alone until the kind queen invites him to their cozy underground ant colony with a promise of a future partnership. Beautifully detailed and expressive watercolor drawings connect to the minute amount of text that accentuates the bare bones tale. Pinkney's artist's note describes his intention of highlighting the story through an artist's point of view. A less grim ending still teaches a lesson, though it may not be what Aesop originally intended.

- Grades K-2 - Lisa Wright - Recommended

School Library Journal Reviews

PreS-Gr 2—Grasshopper arrives on the cover with bass drum and cymbals on his back, concertina between his midlegs, and forelegs strumming his banjo. "Why work so hard?" he sings to some busy ants. "It's spring and time to go fishing." But the ants, gathering food for winter, have no time to relax. In summer, the ants decline Grasshopper's invitation for a leafy picnic and some music, and his fall solicitation to "come dance and sing!" in the "playground of leaves" finds no takers. When snowflakes fall, Grasshopper builds a "snow-hopper," then sits freezing with forelegs and midlegs crossed over vest-covered abdomen, while the ants can be seen knitting, stoking the fire, and caring for their young in a cozy tree trunk home. Eventually invited inside by the Ant Queen, fun-loving Grasshopper gladly shares his musical talents with the amiable colony, then sits down to songs, tea, and cookies with the queen. Full-page vivid watercolor paintings bustling with natural activity and fanciful detail flow through the hues of the seasons, ending in the spare whiteness of winter. Fine line pencil-drawn strings and frets on his banjo, intricate snowflake shapes, the lace of a dragonfly's wings, and the colorful flow of musical bars all demonstrate Pinkney's painstaking concern with detail. So does the way a small bit of leafy scenery on the lower front flyleaf blends perfectly into the spring woodland greenery on the endpapers. VERDICT A lively and engaging version of a favorite Aesop fable.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH

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