Barbara Ann Porte, illustrated by
Ma Jiang and the Orange Ants
Orchard Books, 2000.
Ma Jiang And The Orange Ants is a well-told
and finely illustrated tale set in ancient China about
the Ma family which sells special ants that eat the
insects that prey on orange crops. The male members
of the family climb tall trees and wild bamboo in
order to catch the "orange ants." The mother,
with her young daughter and baby, then take the ants
to the nearby market to sell. One day, this economic
balance of gender forces is disrupted by the emperors
need to build his army. All of the males, father and
sons, are sent to war. The dilemma on how to survive
without the climbing male members of the family is
solved by Jiang, the young daughter, who discovers
an ingenious method of capturing the orange ants.
The author, Barbara Ann Porte, artfully combines
history and fiction in a tender and appealing story
of this Chinese family. An appended note to the reader
documents the background of citrus ants, on which
this attention-holding story is based.