Roly Poly & The Ant
Copyright 2012 - Linda L. Rigsbee
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Written and illustrated by author Linda L. Rigsbee. 
On the floor of an Arkansas forest lived two unlikely friends, Roly Poly and Ant. Roly Poly was a sow bug and Ant was a red ant.
    One day Roly Poly was eating a dead leaf in the forest when Ant visited.
    “Come with me,” Ant said. “People are having a picnic in the meadow.”
     “No,” Roly Poly said. “I don’t like picnics. Little boys always chase me.”
    “Gosh,” Ant said. “They always run from me. If they touch me, I bite them.”
    “I can’t bite them,” Roly Poly said. “I don’t have pincers like you. When they touch me, I roll into a ball like this.”
    “Well,” said Ant. “If you are afraid, then I’ll go alone.” 
With that, Ant ran away.
    “Wait!” Cried Roly Poly. “You always get into trouble.”
    Ant didn’t listen, so Roly Poly ran as fast as he could on his many tiny legs. Still he couldn’t catch up with Ant before he reached the picnic.
    “Look!” cried Ant. “They have a basket of food sitting on the ground!”
    “Wait!” Roly Poly called again. “They always leave scraps when they go home.”
    As usual, Ant couldn’t wait. He was always in a hurry to get the biggest and the best of everything.
    Ant ran across the open space and crawled into the picnic basket.
    “Come in!” Ant yelled. “Look at all the food!”
    Roly Poly didn’t follow Ant. He knew Ant would soon be in trouble, so he crawled up on a stick to watch the family.
    Soon a woman came to get the basket.
    “Get out, Ant!” Roly Poly warned.
    But Ant stayed in the basket. Ant never worried about danger. He would not come out of the basket without food.
    The woman lifted the basket and set it on a blanket. When she walked away, Roly Poly tried once more to help Ant.
    “Now!” Roly Poly cried. “Get out and run!”
    When Ant still didn’t come out of the basket, Roly Poly knew he must save him. He crawled off the stick and ran toward the basket. That was when the boy saw him. Roly Poly crawled as fast as he could, but the boy caught him anyway. Roly Poly rolled into a ball.
    The boy held Roly Poly in one hand and pushed him around with a finger. He giggled as Roly Poly tumbled.

    Roly Poly saw Ant come out of the picnic basket. He had a piece of bread in his pincers. Ant ran to the boy and crawled into his sandal.
    All of a sudden the boy screamed and dropped Roly Poly. He jerked his sandal off and threw it on the ground. Ant bounced off the sandal.
    The boy looked at the red spot on his toe where Ant bit him and started to cry.
Ant jumped up from the ground and ran to the sandal.
“I lost my bread in his sandal!” Ant cried.
The mother heard the boy cry and came to help him.
“Stop!” Roly Poly called to Ant. “Here comes the mother!”
The mother lifted the boy into her arms.
“Poor boy. Did an ant bite you? Bad ant.”
The mother kissed his toe and set him down.
The boy leaned over his sandal and looked at Ant.
    “Look out!” Roly Poly called to Ant.
    But the boy had already seen Ant and he was calling his mother. Ant ran out of the sandal with the piece of bread in his pincers.
    Roly Poly uncurled and started crawling as fast as he could to save Ant. When the boy saw Roly Poly, he left Ant.
    “There you are,” the boy said. “I didn’t mean to drop you.” He grabbed Roly Poly and stood. “Look, mommy! I found a roly poly.”
    Mother looked at Roly Poly. “My, he is a big one!”
    Ant ran from the sandal and hid under a leaf. There he watched them.
    “Now put him down,” mother said. “It’s time to eat lunch.”
    “May I take him home?” the boy asked. “I’ll put him in a jar.”
    “No,” mother said. “We don’t need more roly polys at home. They are eating up my garden now. A roly poly belongs out here in the woods.”
    The boy lifted his hand to throw Roly Poly, but mother stopped him.
    “Don’t throw him. You might hurt him. Put him on the ground where you found him.”
    So the boy put Roly Poly on the ground and let him crawl away.     While the family went back to their picnic, Roly Poly and Ant hurried to the safety of the woods.
    “Whew!” Ant said. “That was close.”
    “You shouldn’t get in picnic baskets,” said Roly Poly. “They always leave scraps when they go home.”
    “I would have been fine if I didn’t have to save you from the boy,” Ant said.
    “They always put me down after a while,” Roly Poly said. “You didn’t need to bite the boy.”
    “Boys smash ants,” said Ant. 
    “That’s because they know you will bite,” said Roly Poly.
    “I can’t roll up like you,” said Ant. “And I had to get some food.”
    “The woods are full of food,” said Roly Poly.
    “Not bread,” said Ant.

    A few days later, while Roly Poly was eating more dead leaves, three other sow bugs joined him.
    “Where did you come from?” asked Roly Poly. “I haven’t seen you before.”
    “A boy brought us here in a jar,” said one of the sow bugs. “His mother brought him on a picnic and he let us go.”
    “A picnic!” Ant cried. 
    “Oh no, not again!” cried Roly Poly.
    But Ant was already running to the meadow. Ant would never learn.
    This time Roly Poly didn’t follow Ant. Ant didn’t want his help. So Roly Poly stayed with his new friends in the woods. They liked to do the same things he did and they didn’t get into trouble all the time.

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