HOW TO WALK AN ANT by Cindy Derby

Hello again, everyone. Spring is in the air and everywhere I look, people are out walking their dogs. So when I was in the bookstore the other day, and I noticed HOW TO WALK AN ANT (By Cindy Derby). I picked it up and quite quickly knew which book my next post would be on.

As delightful as I find this character (and others have also pointed out the same goofy grin with that tooth and her crazy hair), I want to talk about how Cindy Derby is able to give us delightful story in the form of an instructional manual.

First it’s the story set up. We’re introduced to Amariyah (again with a name you don’t find in books everyday!), and who she is. An expert “Walker”.

But Amariyah makes sure we’re not confused by that either…

…and clarifies it. Now though, we’re into it. We’re about to get instruction on how to walk ants. I’ll admit, I was quite interested to see what the “steps” were going to involve. It’s such a great hook.

I loved what Cindy Derby did here with her steps (as you’ll see in the next few as well), in that Amariyah’s instructions are accompanied by “Tips” and “Rules” (which play into the story – especially later). I found these great ways to introduce jokes and deliberate distractions to engage us as we read this guide book.

The way Cindy Derby writes short breaks through Amariyah’s 9 step process (like the way Amariyah introduces herself and then gets distracted and mad for a minute), just builds into the character of this little interesting girl. Such a great way to reveal personality while keeping the the story going. It also continues to feel a lot like an instructional manual with the “dos and don’ts” as well as the picture in picture images.

I also appreciate how the the steps often seem like a direct result to correct something that happened in the previous instruction – another great way to keep this story so engaging. Cindy also hints at the following step with the “rule” as we see here in “step 7” which leads to this hilarious reveal.

And then she builds into more…

…with this JOKE! And if you can believe it, this wasn’t even the BIG reveal of the book! But that’s as far as I’ll share and I’ll leave you to go find this gem and see what Step 9 all entails. It’s amazing!

I really like this book. Cindy Derby is very funny, and I just love this Amariyah’s character and the artwork. But my take away will be how the injection of character traits and breaking up the formula (or 9 step guides and all) can add so much life and character to a story.

Finally, thank you for your comments. I do read them and am thankful for the time so many of you take to let us know your thoughts on these posts. As an author/illustrator myself, I’ve really appreciated a couple of your comments in some of my last posts that questioned my takeaway and if it was more or less applicable to those who were author/illustrators only. That they weren’t sure if Authors could get away with some of these things – and sadly, that just might be correct. BUT, I’d encourage you to try anyway, maybe include some illustration notes if you feel inclined, as there are amazing editors out there with vision to see what you “see”. Secondly, I tried to make sure I focused more on the writing aspect of the take-away on this one. I hope there’s something there for you authors to find and use in your own work for this one.

Special Bonus: (if you pick this one up, check under the jacket flap!)

Until next time!

Mike Boldt

Mike Boldt is an author and illustrator from Alberta, Canada. With more than 18 books in the wild, he's authored titles such as A TIGER TAIL and ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT FLUFFY (Simon and Schuster). He's also the illustrator of Dev Petty's I DON'T WANT TO BE A FROG & I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG & THERE'S NOTHING TO DO (Doubleday). You can learn more about Mike at


  1. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. It looks hilarious!

  2. My granddaughter Sadie would make a great ant walker. A must read for us.

  3. Oh, the hilarity! That hair, POV and word play! I must find out the reveal. Thank you, Mike, for bringing this charmer to our anttention. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Such a wonderfully original book, I really enjoyed this.

  5. This certainly has me guessing! I’ll be sure to check it out.

  6. This book is on my “buy” list for tomorrow – Independent Bookstore Day! My local store is offering a great discount, so maybe I’ll buy two and give one away ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the fantastic breakdown of why this book works.

  7. Well, well, well . . . isn’t this adorable!

  8. This looks fresh and original! Love the idea! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Danielle Hammelef

    I have to read this book. Thanks for sharing so much of it with us–I hope my library has copies. This reminds me of my favorite picture book Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook, which told from a dog’s POV, has rules for life on a farm. I bought my own copy to treasure after checking that book out too.

  10. Danielle Hammelef

    Update–hold placed! My library has a copy!!!

  11. This book looks hilarious! I can’t wait to see what step 9 is! As an author, I found this very informative for writing a “how to” guide. Thanks for sharing!

  12. This book looks hilarious! It’s in my library queue–can’t wait to read it. Thanks, Mike!

  13. I like these guidelines and hope to read it one day.

  14. Youโ€™ve sold me on this book!!!
    I canโ€™t wait to pick it up! I have to know what step 9 is lol

  15. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this! I am really intrigued by this book. Definitely have to find it. I’m also wondering how kids react to it. Sometimes books we appreciate as adults are not the ones that my kinder students are drawn to.

    The art style is also so interesting!

  16. What a book and POV. I will check it out. It appeals to kids and adults who like bugs. I’ll let my entomologist know about it.

  17. I have to get this! When I was a kid, I used to walk/hop crickets.

  18. Lisa Riddiough

    I cannot wait to read this one. I love the How To format, and I love how Cindy does it. Great review!

  19. Adding to my library purchase requests. Thanks for the intro, Mike.

  20. I did this!!!! I tied leashes on ants (unfortunately ants were harmed). I can’t wait to read/see this book. Thanks so much for your insightful post, Mike!

  21. Ooh. This post is further evidence why I need this book. ๐Ÿ™‚

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