A summer ant farm grows into a learning experience for the entire family in this lyrical coming-of-age story from the award-winning author of Down to Earth.
"Endearingly executed, this gentle tale will see readers applauding as they reach the end.” –Booklist, Starred Review
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.
After 10-year-old Harvard Corson's doctor father makes a mistake that results in an infant's death, he is sad all the time, seldom leaving the apartment until he decides to visit his hometown. Harvard's Dominican scientist mother is too busy with research to go along, so Harvard, his five-year-old brother Roger, and their father rent a house deep in the woods of Kettle Hole, Maine, from a childhood friend of Harvard's father who's struggling to pay his late wife's medical bills. Hoping to lift his dad's spirits, Harvard begins a project studying ants; his father enthusiastically builds an ant farm, but when the ants he orders arrive dead, Harvard solicits the help of newfound friend and remarkable poet, 10-year-old Nevaeh, to find new ants. The initially dark slice-of-life story gets lighter as Harvard's father steadily improves and Harvard encounters wonderful people and landmarks in Kettle Hole. Cully (Down to Earth) deftly parallels Harvard's father's progress and the evolution of the ants they observe. Humor, often stemming from Roger's lively antics, is balanced with serious, thoughtful moments in this hopeful story that explores the reality of hardship and mistakes amid themes of forgiveness and resilience. Ages 8 12. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency.