Dakota Douglas sweeps the reader into the secret world of a bug’s life in this gripping fantasy. In the style of Watership Down, this exciting story explodes on one day in the life of Zube and two fellow bug cadets.
High-spirited Zube wants to stand out from the crowd but that’s tough when you’re one in a community of thousands of ants. He dreams of action and adventure and soon gets more than he bargained for when a mission to bring back food to their colony goes horribly wrong. Before long, the trio are up to their antennae in danger as they face hurricanes, tidal waves and capture by their deadliest enemy.
Ants walked the Earth with dinosaurs millions of years ago. And their arch-enemy RepugnANT is as big and as mean as any angry T Rex. Can the cadets save their colony before it’s too late?
This funny and exciting story has many unexpected twists and turns sure to captivate young and old alike. Reviewers say ANTics is hard to put down and would make a great animated movie. So step into the colourful make-believe world of InhabitANT and judge for yourself.
Praise for ANTics: “It surprised me to learn that I could actually feel concern for ants, and harbor resentment toward a spider! The author really accomplished quite a remarkable feat, developing insect characters that the reader would actually care about!” – Readers’ Favourite
Targeted Age Group:: 7-12 years
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
It was as simple as watching a group of ants carrying a potato chip back to their nest. I was fascinated to see them work as a team to lift and manoeuvre the chip (probably 20 times bigger than any one of them) up a pavement kerb and over various obstacles. That night, my over-active imagination produced the story of ANTics in a dream.
I wrote my first children's story when I was eight on a toy typewriter and it is probably gathering dust in the attic of my old house. I was an avid reader and writer which led to a career in journalism. When I had the dream about Zube, it inspired me to start writing books for children.
Brill bounced to his feet. “This way,” he yelled. He charged off the opposite way to the frightening thrashing. Zube and HesitANT hurtled after him.
They leaped over roots and plunged through bushes that lashed them, scratching and stinging their faces. Exhausted, they stopped to catch their breath, but to their horror the crunching of trampled foliage sounded closer.
“He’s gaining on us,” Zube grunted. “Come on – RUN!”
HesitANT collapsed. “I can’t go … another step.” He wheezed and tears stung his eyes.
“You’ve got to.” Zube helped the youngster stand up. “Puggy’s out for blood. We’ll be history if we don’t run.”
Fear was etched on HesitANT’s little, pointy face.
“Come on.” Zube tried to keep his voice from shaking so HesitANT wouldn’t know how scared he was. “We’ll look after you.”
Brill clutched Zube. “The crashing’s stopped,” he whispered in a tight, tense voice.
Zube frowned. “Hmm, I don’t like it.”
HesitANT’s eyes swung from left to right. “Let’s get out of here,” he shouted and bolted off.
“NO, HesitANT …” Zube screamed.
Puggy wasn’t the only creature with magic powers. Zube had special powers of his own. Ants can read each other’s minds by sending chemical messages or tapping the ground, but Zube was one of a few ants who read the minds of all creatures – not just ants. He read Puggy’s evil mind now – and he didn’t like what was in it.
But his warning was too late. In his panic to escape, HesitANT plunged into a line of hardened silk strung across the ground like a tripwire. Puggy had outflanked them and spun the snare across their path.
“AAAAAAARGH!” The young ant gave a piercing scream.
Brill and Zube crept closer. Crouching down, they saw HesitANT dangling from the trap struggling to get free. The thread was coated with tiny, sticky beads that sparkled in the sun like a diamond necklace. HesitANT was stuck and couldn’t break free.
Puggy leaped out of concealment. His eight eyes lit up.
“What have we here?” he said, bounding over to HesitANT. “Yumo! An ant snack.” He leered and licked his lips.
He was frightening to look at. Mean eyes gleamed in his thick, hairy head as he smirked at HesitANT.
HesitANT cringed and screamed. “Eeeek! Help!”
The crafty spider towered over his terrified captive flashing his dagger-like teeth in his face.
“Please, d-d-don’t eat me,” HesitANT begged.
“Give me one good reason.”
“Uhh! I’ll t-t-taste h-horrible.”
“You’re a funny little guy. In fact, you’re so little I don’t think it’s worth the effort.” Puggy gave the quivering ant his best shot at a friendly smile, but it failed a bajillion per cent. His massive face remained terrifying and ugly. “I tell you what, Short Stuff, I’m feeling kinda generous today, so I’m going to let you go.”
“Huh! You m-mean it.” HesitANT’s eyes lit up. “You’re g-g-oing to let me go.”
“But you said -”
“I lied.” Puggy snorted with laughter. “My little joke.”
HesitANT whimpered and his eyes rolled in his head.
“Oh, and did I mention that I’m not just going to eat you. First, I’m going to tear you limb from limb, turn you into mush and then eat you. Hee-hee-hee!”
“Aaaahh!” The young ant collapsed against the silken trap.
“I know, I know. You’re young, you’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you … la de la de la.” His face twisted in an even uglier grin. “Sheesh, get over it.”
Nearby, Zube clenched his claws. He’d read the fiend’s mind and he wouldn’t like to be in HesitANT’s shell right now. They had to do something to help the little guy. But what? Puggy was no pushover.
“Zube, Brill. Help!” HesitANT screamed.
Zube sprang up and darted forward, but Brill pulled him back. “Wait,” he whispered.
“You’re wasting your time,” they heard Puggy say. “No-one can help you.”
But Puggy was wrong. As usual, brainy Brill came up with an idea. “Quick, Zube, grab one of those pine needles.” He pointed to the ground.
Zube clenched the needle in his jaw and hoisted it above his head with his front legs.
“Now, Zube, let it rip,” Brill shouted.
Zube didn’t need to be told twice. He hurled the needle at Puggy. It sailed through the air and speared one of the giant’s legs impaling it to the ground.
“OWWWWWWWW!” Puggy howled and tore at the needle with his multiple claws.
Zube and Brill sprinted to HesitANT hanging helplessly from the tripwire. One glance told Zube that the young cadet was well and truly trapped. It would take super efforts by both him and Brill to free him. We better get a move on, he thought, shooting a look at the wounded Puggy.
Two blades with a row of short teeth extended out from their mouths. The friends used their serrated jaws like a saw to cut through the silky thread that was stronger than spun steel. As they worked, Zube kept a beady eye on Puggy. The blackhearted beast gnashed his huge teeth as he wrenched at the needle spear. His eyes glared at the trio.
After what seemed like a lifetime, HesitANT was free. With a claw each holding him up, the nestmates streaked off into the undergrowth.
“Brill, that was cool with a capital C,” Zube said. “Did you see Puggy’s face when the needle hit him?” He slapped his hind leg and hooted. “Hee-hee!”
Brill and HesitANT burst out laughing, but Puggy’s roar wiped the smiles from their faces.
“Grrrrrrrr, you can’t run for ever,” he bellowed. “I’ll catch you.”
“Where can we go, Brill?” Zube asked. “That monster isn’t going to give up.”
“This way.” Brill pointed towards Orchard Cottage. “Head for the Two Legs’ nest. It’s our only chance.”
“What about the Two Legs?” HesitANT cried.
“Are you nuts -?” Zube said.
“We don’t have time to argue,” Brill said. “We’ve only bought ourselves a few seconds. Puggy will be up again before you know it and his legs are longer than ours are. So come on, let’s go.”
Zube didn’t argue. He could still read Puggy’s murderous mind. Even now, the sneaky spider was free and again stalking them. It wouldn’t take him long to catch up.
As Brill ran towards the cottage, Zube was close behind, dragging HesitANT.
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Dakota Douglas was born in the North East of England and grew up with princesses, pirates, mermaids, talking animals and fairies – wonderful characters plucked from her colourful imagination. From being very young, she wanted to be a writer and this led her into the world of newspaper reporting where she met real-life princesses and super heroes. As a news hound, she wrote thousands of stories and is now following her childhood dream of being an author. She loves to write fantasy children's stories packed with action and adventure for 8-12-year-olds. When not pounding on her keyboard, she's usually out and about wearing her invisibility cape so she can people watch and get ideas for future stories.