"Pools of chocolate can't be beat. Move it, bacon, that's my treat!"
This colorful picture book features the lovable little ant and his quest to solve the mystery of a missing ice cream cone. When his favorite treat suddenly disappears, the ant must follow some unusual leads to uncover the truth. Through many twists and turns, and an unflappable main character, we soon discover that no mystery is too big for the little ant! This is the fourth book in the Little Ant series.
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Welcome to my fourth Little Ant book! It is a story inspired by the child in me. Sure, it’s centered around my sons’ favorite treat (ice cream!), but when choosing the actual story, I tried to write a book that I would've enjoyed as a kid. So, this story is a little bit different from the rest. It is not based on any specific event that happened in our lives, but on my old-time favorites. I tapped into the past, wrote from the heart, and created a really fun mystery for all to enjoy!
Before I could put pen to paper, I had to think back to my childhood. What did I like in a good book? What types of stories do I even remember reading? I went to Catholic school, which means we read A LOT. A few good books came to mind. One was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I remember being blown away by that book! The mystery and the suspense were amazing. And then in high school, we read Bleak House by Charles Dickens. That was also an incredible book. We read it in segments, much like the ‘episodes’ that were originally published in the 1800’s. We were not allowed to read past the assigned chapter, so it really built the suspense and kept us wanting more. That, too, was a fantastic mystery.
As you can see, many books influenced me as a child, but I would be remiss not to mention TV shows, as well. My all-time favorite was Scooby Doo. I must’ve watched every episode, ten times over! I absolutely loved trying to solve those mysteries. And of course, hanging out with ghosts and ghouls were a real treat, too!
This all led me to write my very first mystery. Coming up with the story was fun, but drawing the pictures was even funner! (I know that’s not a word, but it should be!) When it came to illustrating this book, I really abandoned my inhibitions. The pictures just flowed. The colors seemed brighter, the pigs seemed piggier. As I was designing it, I would say, “I think I need a grasshopper here.” Or “How about a flock of geese over there?” And then I would just draw it. I had a renewed confidence in myself. The best example of this ‘new illustrator in me’ would be the cover of the book. It was like the cherry on the...well, ice cream sundae! I really loved all the colors and creating that awesome, swirling effect. Of course, I tried to draw that swirl by hand, but I knew instantly that it wasn’t going to work. I will thank Photoshop for the assistance on that one! In a final, bold, and daring move, I colored the cover black. It not only captured the spirit of the mystery, but made the colors really pop off the page. It was a great move because I am now IN LOVE with that book cover!
In the end, Little Ant & the Ice Cream Mystery turned out to be a fun, silly, and exciting story—one that I would’ve loved to have read as a child. It is the perfect, sweet mystery for the little ant to solve!
Me and my amazing grandparents!
Little Ant & the Ice Cream Mystery- Book Trailer
Little Ant & the Ice Cream Mystery
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Ilene Dudek is an award-winning author and illustrator from Nutley, NJ. In 2017, she began writing her Little Ant children's series. Since then, she has completed six books in the series. All six books have been featured in the 2020-2021 preschool art program at Lovlee Art Studios in Bloomfield, NJ. Her new book Little Ant & the Epic Battle received the 2020 Royal Dragonfly Book Award—earning honorable mention in the Picture Books 6 & Older category. It was also recognized by the state of Illinois as a valuable COVID-19 resource for families with young children. It sits alongside recommendations from the CDC and UNICEF as a resource for understanding the pandemic. Ilene has participated in over 50 local author events, including a book signing at Barnes & Noble, and has been featured on "Spotlight New Jersey" — News 12 New Jersey and in Jersey's Best magazine. Ilene was also the guest speaker at a 2020 Nutley Rotary luncheon and on the 16W with Norman podcast. In the future, Ilene hopes to continue writing her Little Ant series and sharing her books with the local community.