Thanks to a thoughtful gift of a family friend, Diana Birchall, we have discovered the joy that is Ant and Bee.
Ant and Bee are a couple of friendly insect adventurers, (not surprisingly) an ant and a bee. They wear hats. Ant is sometimes naughty. They have a friend called Kind Dog. Kind Dog is a dog. Together, the friends teach small people about reading, numbers, the time, colours, how to host a proper birthday party. As birthday parties are just about the most exciting things to ever happen in three-year-old GG’s world we’ve read this book over and over and OVER again.
Some updated versions of Ant and Bee books are available in the UK again, through Egmont, some lovely small hardback books with really whimsical and lovely illustrations (done by the author herself). The only mention I can find on the website for Ant and Bee is in the catalog on page 51.
I tried to find out a little bit more about the author, Angela Banner. She’s really quite a mystery. On the early volumes (first published 1950) allegedly her name wasn’t even on the cover.
After a little sniffing around on the web, and the help of a few bloggy-blogs like this one, I’ve found Angela Banner is a pen name, her real name is Angela Mary Lincke Madison. She was born in India. She lived in West London for most of her life. She died last year. She was the beloved aunt of a lovely niece in LA, who wrote the only original biographical piece I can find publicly on the web, her obituary.
I got in touch with Fiona, the lovely niece in LA. I fished a little for a few more bits of info, but it was not forthcoming. Angela was a very private person, and Fiona was not about to spill the beans.
We are getting tremendous joy from the books. They are written with such a light, playful touch, and an understand of what pre-schoolers find truly exciting. The pictures are wonderful, and expand vocabulary and knowledge of the world including social interaction. And we have at least 10 more books to collect. Hoorah!