It’s an Orange Aardvark!
by Michael Hall
Greenwillow Books, 2014
36 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Picture book, fiction
YHBA picture book nominee, 2016
Interest level: PreK-1st; Reading level: 2.9
4 out of 5 stars
This is an engaging story that young children will delight in. The colorful illustrations tell the story of 5 carpenter ants living in a stump. Their colorful hardhats help readers tell them apart and learn their individual personalities. The red carpenter ant is very cautious and expresses concern that a gray aardvark will be waiting outside to eat the ants if they have a hole in their stump.
Yellow carpenter ant drills the hole and the color orange comes shining through. In the first moment of hilarity, the red ant exclaims, “Oh no. It’s an orange aardvark!” Children will laugh as red ant comes up with more and more elaborate explanations for the different colors that appear as yellow ant keeps drilling different holes — an orange aardvark wearing blue pajamas, and so on.
Hall has created a book that is funny, and introduces the colors of the rainbow to young readers in an engaging and understanding way. The final page is a big ambiguous, so children can offer different suggestions on the ending.
There is a lot about this book that reminds me of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The acrylic painted textures of the collage shapes that Hall uses to create his illustrations are modern computer-generated versions of Carle’s. Additionally, this book features holes drilled through the pages, much like the holes in the many things that Hungry Caterpillar ate. That’s not a bad thing, because Eric Carle is a master at creating engaging illustrations, and as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Teachers could pair the two books together and make comparisons. This book could also be used in a fun art project that looks at using shapes to create pictures. Lois Ehlert’s Color Zoo could be used as a companion text.