The Natural Genius of Ants -- New Middle Grades Novel about Family, Friends, Loss, Ants & More with Ant Craft & Activity Round-Up


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summertime always brings ants. Whether you are picnicking, gardening or have them in your house, ants seem to be everywhere in the summer. Today I am going to share a new middle grade novel about family, friends, loss, and learning about forgiveness with a little biology lesson on ants sprinkled in. The book is The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley. I am also sharing a round-up of ant crafts and activities to go with the book.

From the Publisher:

Harvard is used to his father coming home from the hospital and telling him about all the babies he helped. But since he made the mistake at work, Dad has been quieter than usual. And now he is taking Harvard and his little brother, Roger, to Kettle Hole, Maine, for the summer. Harvard hopes this trip isn’t another mistake.

In the small town where he grew up, Dad seems more himself. Especially once the family decides to start an ant farm--just like Dad had as a kid! But when the mail-order ants are D.O.A., Harvard doesn't want Dad to experience any more sadness. Luckily, his new friend Neveah has the brilliant idea to use the ants crawling around the kitchen instead. But these insects don't come with directions. So the kids have a lot to learn--about the ants, each other, and how to forgive ourselves when things go wrong.

From Me:

This book is about so many things. Harvard's family is feeling at a loss. His father cannot recover from his mistake at work and his depression is bringing everyone down. Nevaeh and her father are at a loss. Her mother died, and they are left with insurmountable bills from her care. In fact her father moves them to the barn so he can rent out the house. Harvard's father brings his two sons to their house in the town he grew up in. Harvard's father and Nevaeh's father are childhood best friends. The ant farm seems like an idea to pull Harvard's dad out of his funk, but the ordered ants arrive dead, and Harvard can't imagine how his dad will respond so he turns to Nevaeh for help. Through the ants Harvard and Nevaeh become friends. 

Being back in Maine helps Harvard's father open up and come back to life. When his old friend needs medical care he is there to help. Slowly the ants, the visiting old friends and summer help both families grow together and find ways to forgive themselves and move on. This book is about life. It is about mistakes. It is about forgiveness. It is about family. And it has some facts about ants thrown in. It is a wonderful read that will pull kids in. Who doesn't want to spend the summer in a small house in a small town in Maine. There seem to be little rules and one can ride his or her bike through the town and get where you need to. Then when trouble happens, the adults are there to help. Overall it is a wonderful tale that will have kids thinking about friendship as well as family. 

Ant Craft & Activity Round-Up

To go with this book I thought some ant crafts and activities would be perfect. Here are some from around the blog world!

1) Ant Craft

2) Cute Colony of Ants from Blue Bear Wood

3) Bottle Cap Ant Craft from Affordable Homeschool

4) Easy Fingerprint Ant Craft from Twitchetts

5) Ants Lapbook from Homeschool Share

6) Ant Life Cycle Worksheets from Living Life & Learning

7) Ant Body Parts Worksheet from Affordable Homeschool

8) A Is For Ant Mini-Pack from Homeschool Preschool

9) Ant Facts & Trivia Worksheet for Kids from Homeschool & Happiness

10) How to Draw an Ant from Artsy Pretty Colors

11) Exploring Ant Hills

12) A Is for Ant Craft from Beth Ann Averill

13) Busy Ant Counting Clip Cards from Homeschool Share

14) STEM Book about Adding Ants