Dr Henricus Ant (Uncle Hank) ran away to Australia as a child, made his fortune locust-ranching and became an inventor, his greatest inventions so far being the Antmobile — which runs on bottled sunshine and has sea and space as well as land drives — and Scopsie, the little cyber-owl who sits on its hood and is almost as clever as Uncle Hank himself.
From time to time they visit Uncle Hank’s sister Dymphna and five nephews and nieces in Wapping Wall, London, to take them on adventures.
In this collection, following a rather disappointing visit to Dog Rock (Essex’s nod to Ayer’s Rock), they visit an undiscovered vegetable planet orbiting Betelgeuse, an enchanted stream in Kent and Castle Raspberry in the 18th Century to retrieve a dodo.
According to the child development experts, children need stories. Their little lives being necessarily restricted, reading or listening to them expands their experience, encourages them to understand and accept others’ lives, fosters empathy - even boosts intelligence. Absorbed in listening, they may even, like Scheherazade’s caliph, defer giving you a seriously hard time until your story-telling is done.
Mind, Uncle Hank Ant stories are not the usual kind written for usual children. They are for young persons of any age who don't mind occasionally longish words and the odd footnote containing fascinating, stimulating and sometimes downright useless bits of information.