cover image Juan Hormiga

Juan Hormiga

Gustavo Roldán, trans. from the Spanish by Robert Croll. Elsewhere, $22 (64p) ISBN 978-1-939810-82-3

Juan Hormiga is an ant with two skills: his impressive napping and his hypnotic storytelling. In scribbly lines against lots of white space, Roldán draws the protagonist, a red ant, and his peers, black ants, as cartoonlike characters with googly eyes and large mandibles. Juan Hormiga’s stories all center his intrepid grandfather—an ant who traveled and faced great danger, “the bravest creature to ever set foot in any anthill.” Though the other ants have memorized Juan Hormiga’s grandfather’s achievements, they love to hear the tales retold. One day, though, Juan Hormiga announces his intention to strike out alone, reenacting the brave feats his grandfather tackled before him. After he departs, and it starts to rain, the ants begin to worry, building narrative tension by recounting the mythical stories: “Maybe he’s going down into the ravine, hanging from a spider’s thread. His grandfather did that.” With a funny ending, a nested telling, and a folktale’s meandering charm, this story has the same hypnotic draw as Juan Hormiga’s own. Ages 5–8. [em](May) [/em]