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Two Bad Ants Hardcover – October 24, 1988

4.7 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this new book by Van Allsburg, twice a winner of the Caldecott Medal, the theme of an outsider's point-of-view (touched upon most recently in his The Stranger ) is expanded. Accustomed to the orderly and uneventful life in the ant hole, all the ants enter the bizarre world of a kitchen in the search for sugar crystals for the queen. Two greedy ants stay behind in the sugar bowl, eating their fill and then falling asleep. Their slumbers end when a giant scoop drops them into a sea of boiling brown coffee. Further mishaps include a heated stay in the toaster, a hazardous swirl in the garbage disposal and a zap in an electrical outlet. When the ant troops return, the two bad ants gladly rejoin their friends and head for the safety of home. In this work, the hazards of nonconformity are clear. The narration has the feel of early newsreels where the broadcaster described unknown phenomena in clipped, clinical language: "A strange force passed through the wet ants. They were stunned senseless and blown out of the holes like bullets from a gun." The resilient ants and the eerie landscapes are portrayed in strong black-and-white images, enriched by deep brown, purple, slate, gold and steely blue colors; Van Allsburg, playing with perspective, creates marvelous contrasts and images. But although Two Bad Ants is visually different from its predecessors, it shares the same strong style, dazzling artwork and whimsy that characterizes all of the artist's work. Ages 3-8.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-5 In this brief tale of the adventures of two runaway ants, Van Allsburg once again gives children a visual puzzle to solvein this case identifying common household appliances from an ant's point of view. When a troop of ants are sent to retrieve sugar crystals from a kitchen, two ants stay behind to feast and go to sleep in the sugar bowl. When morning comes they are successively stirred into a cup of coffee, almost swallowed, toasted with an english muffin, whirled through a garbage disposal, and stunned senseless in an electrical outlet. While some children will enjoy identifying the highly magnified objects, others will wonder how the ants have managed to survive any one of these disasters. The truants return home in one piece, and the last few lines supply a pallid and oddly moralistic conclusion to the story. The book is a visual tour-de-force. The highly linear, hard-edged drawings look like fine etchings which have been magnifieda technique which enhances the sense of being reduced to ant size. The colors applied in flat fields are primarily limited to earth tones and gray, combined with touches of pure white and black in lines and fields of almost luminous intensity. The intensity of the visual experience overpowers the story, which is a flat, rather cold vehicle, an excuse for a visual game which will appeal to the intellect of children older than typical picture book readers. Eleanor K. MacDonald, Beverly Hills Public Lib .
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 24, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395486688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395486689
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.5 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A #1 BUGMAN favorite, Two Bad Ants allows children (and everyone else) to experience the world through an ant's point of view. Van Allsburg's phenomenal illustrations take us through a grass jungle, up a brick mountain, and into a strange world where "even the sky is gone"! We are carried through this thrilling adventure with two ants who get a little greedy and find all sorts of trouble. The result is a spellbinding ant's-eye trip through a normal kitchen that teaches the bad ants a memorable lesson. Two Bad Ants is better than a 10 - one of the best ever
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Format: Hardcover
"Two Bad Ants" was first published over ten years ago, but I somehow overlooked it. This gem is worth adding to your collection of children's books, and it's one that children enjoy hearing over and over again. Best of all, "Two Bad Ants" is a book that YOU won't tire of READING aloud to your kids!! What I love about this book is that Van Allsburg isn't afraid to use big words in a book for children; simplistic books are great for kids who are trying to learn to read, but they need books with more complicated vocabulary in order to increase their understanding of language. Van Allsburg really delivers with this well-written, suspenseful, entertaining tale of two ants who discover a scary world they'd never dreamed existed: a modern kitchen, replete with electrical appliances and the inherent dangers thereof. Van Allsburg delivers the story's message simply and directly on the last page of the book: the ants learn that they belong at home and that will be happiest in their familiar surroundings. The easy life they'd envisioned could be theirs in the strange new indoor world of the house was more dangerous than they could have imagined, and wasn't worth the trouble.
The drawings are simple and clean, and the color-pallette is limited, which makes for fewer distractions. The artwork is really fantastic, but the vivid pictures Van Allsburg draws with his rich, descriptive complex sentences are even more satisfying. This is a book that my children and I will enjoy for years to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a teacher who works with small groups in our school. One of the things I try to do is help kids look at things from different points of view. This story is told from the point of view of the ants, which is, of course, very different from the human point of view. Some parts of the books should definitely be discussed, because it may not be obvious to children that a forest could be blades of grass or that hot brown bitter liquid could be coffee. Follow-up activities might include students drawing their own pictures from an insect's view point, or writing a story about a small creature's adventures.
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Format: Hardcover
The story serves as a good example of how greed can be harmful to students. It also demonstrates how pictures may be used to help a reader understand text. For example, The author never names the crystal, but by looking at the pictures they can determine that it's sugar. The story is engaging for young readers because ants are small, non-threatening characters. Also, by using the ants to teach a lesson kids may not even realize they're learning. It is written in an attractive yet concise manner, and could be useful in teaching kids how to write text to describe pictures.
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By GC on November 7, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love using this book for tackling the inference standard with my fourth graders. The book is all from the point of the view of what the ants would be seeing. I love reading it to them showing them a glimpse of the illustration and having them make an inference with evidence of to where these two bad anys have ended up.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a hilarious book about size and the BIG WORLD, and also about the reason for following rules.

Two ants start out on a journey to retrieve a blissfully, wonderful substance to feed the queen, and end up "playing hookie." Their funny antics, discovering the world of humans, lands them into one catastrophe after another.

As a read-aloud, you will have instant attention, and good for guessing what item is causing the ants to flounder.
As a reading level book, it's a sure thing for grade 2, or higher grade 1. Kids will love and identify with the characters, in size and antics.
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A Kid's Review on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is so, so, so cool! We loved this book very much. We could read it over and over again. It can make a very good gift for someone who loves books. I highly recommend this book for all ages. It has very very good illustrations. This book is really really awesome! It is funny, you would think it would be boring because it is called "Two Bad Ants" but after you start to look at the cool pictures and read more about it, you will think it is really cool, too! It is about two ants who are so close to being eaten but escape. I hope you will enjoy the book. If you buy it I think you will like it a lot. -KM & SS
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love love love Chris Van Allsburg. I used this book as a whole group read aloud. The topic was writing from another point of view/perspective. After reading the book, the students loved it by the way, and giving a mini lesson on perspective and brainstorming, the students wrote their own story. Fun for all was had.
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