Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy First Day of Spring - Ant and Bee and the Rainbow

When I was a little girl I loved the Ant and Bee books by Angela Banner. She wrote about 10 of these (and also a couple which I have not read featuring someone called Curly Fork). They featured an Ant (a bit naughty), Bee (more staid), Kind Dog (self explanatory) and sometimes, Zoo Man. It is a bit hard to explain how magical they are: the illustrations are detailed but plain and very evocative, and she gives her two little insects a whole lot of personality. They are also 'teaching' books BUT ones which avoided being preachy.

In those days there were no board books just little books with normal paper

These books are now out of print. Ebay and Amazon tell me to my disappointment that good quality Ant and Bee books, which I would love to buy for my children, sell for upwards of $200.

I can't quite bring myself to spend that much and I wistfully regret ever letting my ones disappear (although that is the kind of thing I think I can probably safely blame on my mother - the last time I saw my Ant and Bee books they were in storage in her shearing shed at the farm - did the sheep eat them, or did the feral cats shred them?).

This story was my favourite one.

Ant and Bee (who you can see is quite English, he carries an umbrella for emergencies and wears one of those odd shade hats you see older people wear sometimes) discover a rubber car tyre half buried in the ground. They set to work painting it in rainbow colours and then they construct two little swings and hang them from the highest point. At the end of the day they sit happily on their rainbow, watching the sun set.

They have a lovely time until it rains and the colour washes off revealing the rubbery grey surface of the type. Slightly bittersweet but I guess they had fun while it lasted. It is probably a comment on the transience of child play.

How's that for memory? Have not read this book for more than 30 years and I remember all the detail! In honour of this book this post is a rainbow post.

And a plea into cyberspace - please, Heinneman, why don't you reissue these books. Angela Banner will be happy, and so will many children whose parents loved them.


Lee said...

These Ant & Bee books sound quite lovely. I think I would have loved to have read them when I was a child too. So sad that they're now out of print. Hope you manage to track down at least one of them (cheaply). Failing that, maybe we should petition Heinemann?!?

Julie@beingRUBY said...

How Cute
I've never heard of these but yes childhood memories can be very strong. If I ever see them anywhere [where they haven't caught on to the value] I will let you know. Have Fun Julie [thanks for following.. I'll put you on follow also]

cj said...

I hadn't thought about those books since my children had them. And wouldn't you know it, I can't find a single one! I agree, Jane, they should be released again. I went to Albris and was, like you, shocked at the prices. Another one I let slip out of my hands, was The Bed Book, the only children's book written by Sylvia Plath. My children loved it and now the price has gone nuts. Have you ever seen it in Australia?

Jane said...

Gee a children's book by Sylvia Plath. My mind is boggling! But I feel good children's books are often a bit dark anyway. I will keep and eye out here!

The Girl said...

Oh my goodness!! I had Ant & Bee and the Rainbow when I was little and it was my absolute favourite book in the whole wide world.

I went online to try and find another copy to give to my boyfriend's niece and discovered that they're out of print and crazily expensive!!

Whilst I was looking I came across this post and couldn't believe it - someone else who knew the books!!

I have just written a post about it so pop over and have a look if you get the chance. You have a lovely blog, I'm sure I'll be back again!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails