Friday, October 8, 2010

Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun

For all my years of messy housekeeping and leaving food out overnight in my kitchen I've never had ants... until now.  They appeared this morning, dozens of them on the counter.  At least they are tiny (my mom always called them "sugar" ants) and easy to squish.  It sounds weird, but I do feel a bit bad about crushing them.  It's probably from reading too many anthropomorphized animal books like this one.

Janet Frame 1969
illustrated by Robin Jacques

 Janet Frame was a wonderful writer from New Zealand. There's a terrific movie about her life called An Angel at My Table.  I like her adult stories and poetry and this is her only children's book that I know of. Madeleine and I read it together years ago and it's really quite good.

From Amazon's description:
"Once upon a time, not long ago, almost now, there was a young House Ant called Mona Minim who was preparing to make her first journey out of the nest." So begins this enchanting story of little Mona Minim in her yellow sunbonnet and floral apron and six black-buttoned shoes, who became lost while playing the Stair Game and was found by Barbara, the Garden Ant, who became her friend. That is how Mona Minim came to live for a while among the Garden Ants, and to play hide-and-seek in the Sunflower Forest, and how she got to know Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Pogo and Cousin Nigel who was going to marry the Princess one day. Uncle Pogo was quite a character. He couldn't see the point of working all the time like the rest of the Garden Ants. "A little steady work and plenty of steady rest"-that was his motto. He was all for a "honey break" to make things pleasant on the job. And so winter passed and spring came and everybody was filled with anticipation as Swarm Day drew near, when the young Princess would become Queen. "What is the smell of blue," Mona Minim wondered, thinking of the Queen's flight, "when you are flying in the sky, and of the smell of the sun and the wind that never blows close to the grass and the earth? What is the smell of the sun?" It was only after Swarm Day, when she had returned to her own House Ants and was able to review her adventurous life, that Mona Minim found the answer: "You must go out, little ants, and see and smell and taste and touch for yourselves, and then you will know."

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