The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants


Philip Bunting, The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants., Scholastic Australia, February 2020, 32 pp., RRP $17.99 (hbk), ISBN 97817483834084 

I think The Wonderful Wisdom of Antswith its full stop at the end of the title and its delightfully quirky pictures and text is a wonderful book.  

Also, its facts are fascinating. Did you know that there is a word ‘quadrillion’? I thought Mr Bunting had made it up, at first, because it sounded like trillion, billion and million. But he didn’t: the US definition of quadrillion according to my dictionary, is it’s a number that starts with one and is followed by 15 zeroes.  

The British definition of quadrillion is a number that starts with one and is followed by 24 zeroes, but I guess the zeroes would have to be in smaller text or spill over more pages in the book. So perhaps he was right to limit his example of what this cardinal number could look like. 

Anyway, the reason the word appears in the text is because apparently, there are currently 10 quadrillion ants. I presume here, that Bunting means more or less, not that he counted them. Although, he does state at the end of the book ‘that the answers to many of life’s questions can be found in your own back yard once you are ready to look’. 

I also learnt that: 

  • the soldier and worker ants are female and that drones are male whose life goals are to fly off, mate and then drop dead 
  • Ants communicate by producing scent chemicals (pheromones) 
  • And they recycle without using fancy coloured bins to help them. 

The wonderful wisdom of ants. is written for four years old and older.  

Bunting has won several awards including the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year (Notable Book) and according to his website, he likes to write picture books for ‘sleep-deprived, time-poor, raisin-encrusted parents (and their children).’ 

Reviewed by Katy Gerner 

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