Bridgette Redman's Reviews > Angie the Ant and the Bumblebee Tree

Angie the Ant and the Bumblebee Tree by Susi Beatty
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Feb 24, 12

Read in February, 2007

Art compels the most when there is an authenticity in medium. A story mesmerizes most when it takes fullest advantage of the form the artist chooses.

For every step away from that medium, something is lost. A movie made from a book always lacks somewhat. The serialization of a movie sounds a tinny echo. A musical made from a play feels forced. Likewise, children’s books condensed from novels produce a stale aftertaste and the feeling that something is missing.

Susi Beatty and Keri Gunter’s Angie the Ant and the Bumblebee Tree has its heart in the right place. Angie the Ant has been enslaved all of her life and longs for freedom, freedom that can be found only by taking a dangerous journey to the Bumblebee Tree. Frankie the Blue Heron befriends her and helps her avoid the evil Fleavils who are helping Queen Sadina enslave the ants.

They travel through the beautiful countryside and are able to make their escape only through a happenstance that smacks of deus ex machina.

The story too quickly glosses over the details of the world. We don’t know why the Fleavils and Sadina are evil. We don’t know who is enslaved or how it came to pass. We don’t know why the Bumblebee Tree offers safety. We get just a touch of explanation engendering more questions than answers.

The pictures are all cheerful and happy. Even the home of the slaves have a Garden of Eden-like feel to it and the young ant appears to be surrounded with comforts and beauty. It’s difficult to feel that Angie is escaping from any hardship other than an undefined slavery.

There seems to be a metaphor woven throughout the story, but it stays hidden. It is the back cover that reveals this book is based on the first novel of the Chronicles of Antamar series—a series that doesn’t seem to yet be published.

Angie the Ant is filled with many promising storytelling elements, but there is too much missing, too much that may very well be fleshed out in the novel. Standing on its own, Angie the Ant wobbles, begging for the support of the full work. It’s a story in which the authors are too close to their world. In their intimacy with it, they forget to fill the readers in on important details that would make it come to life for them as well.

This is meant to be a children’s picture book. Already, it is heavy with small-type text and to add more would begin the teeter over into a novella. It would be better to tighten it, cutting out some things to provide more compelling detail on what is left.

A children’s book works far better when it picks a single element—or at most two—and makes it as interesting and fleshed out as possible. By being choosy, a picture book can have great power and not muddle its message.

This review was originally published at Epinions.com http://www.epinions.com/content_32512...

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