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Truman's Aunt Farm

Truman sends away for ants, but gets aunts instead.

Illustrated by G. Brian Karas, ages 4-8

This is my second published picture book, and was the most fun to write. It has been wonderful sharing the book and its humor with young and old alike.

I actually got the idea from my husband, Len, who suggested I write about an ant farm, since we had just sent one to our nephew for his birthday. Len was thinking "scientific insect book;" I envisioned a place where top notch aunts received their training.

Since my mother was one of 12 children, I had a lot of aunts around me growing up. I felt more than qualified to write about this "affliction." My mother's sisters served as a kind of "Greek chorus." I couldn't so much as sneeze without their commenting upon it.

Truman was named in honor of Truman Capote, who wrote my all-time favorite short story, "A Christmas Memory." He was supposedly raised in the South by aunts.

Aunt Fran isn't my aunt, but a close friend from grad school, a "colleague in adventure."

And the food? Rice pudding is Len's favorite dessert. Jelly sandwiches are the "jam pennies" Prince Charles used to eat in the nursery (I am a diehard Anglophile), and little hot dogs are simply adorable.

These days, I enjoy being an aunt, but I don't pinch any cheeks. And in the woods surrounding our house, there are GIANT ants!!

StudANT Activities

1. Obtain an ant farm for classroom observation.

2. Read about and draw an underground ant colony or diagram a mature ant.

3. Write a letter to your aunt.

4. WORD PLAY: Make a list of real words with "ant" in them (e.g., deviant, anticipate, antique), or Make up your own words, substituting "ant" in real words (e.g., studant, obediant, valantine, fant club), or Make a list of other puns or homonyms.

5. Describe or draw a portrait of your real or ideal aunt.

6. Make up your own funny aunt/ant story.

7. Construct a family tree.

8. Make a classroom ANThology of aunt portraits, stories, words, letters, diagrams, etc.

9. Sponsor an aunt party or picnic. Bring your aunt to school. Refreshments per the book: rice pudding, jelly sandwiches, little hot dogs.

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