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Juan Hormiga
Author & Illustrator: Gustavo Roldán
Translator: Robert Croll
Published Originally in 2013, Translated and Published May 4th, 2021 by Elsewhere Editions

Summary: Juan Hormiga, the greatest storyteller of his entire anthill, loves to recount his fearless grandfather’s adventures. When Juan and his fellow ants gather around for story time, he hypnotizes all with tales of his grandfather’s many exploits – including his escape from an eagle’s talons and the time he leapt from a tree with just a leaf for a parachute. When he’s through telling these tales, Juan loves to cozy up for a nice long nap. He’s such a serious napper that he takes up to ten siestas every day! Though well loved by his ant friends, Juan decides telling tales and sleeping aren’t quite enough for him – it’s time to set off on his own adventure. With whimsical, irresistible illustrations, Juan Hormiga affirms the joys of sharing stories, and of creating your own out in the world.

About the Author: Gustavo Roldán was born in Argentina in 1965. His illustrations are widely published, and he has been exhibiting his work since 1985. His books have been published in numerous countries including Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, South Korea, and Switzerland and have earned him recognition from A.L.I.J.A., the Prix Octogone, and inclusion in the White Ravens catalogue created by the Jugendbibliothek. His other books include El señor G and Historias de conejo y elefante, both published internationally. He currently lives in Barcelona, where he is a contributor to several publishing houses.

About the Translator: Robert Croll is a writer, translator, musician, and visual artist from Asheville, North Carolina. He first came to translation during his undergraduate studies at Amherst College, where he focused on Julio Cortázar’s short fiction. His translations include The Diaries of Emilio Renzi by Ricardo Piglia, published by Restless Books.

Review: From the first couple of pages when Juan Hormiga napped his way around the spread and showed his curiosity, I fell in love with this little ant. He may not fit what we normally think of when we think of ants, but he is an example of the importance of different types of people in a community: every time Juan Hormiga speaks to tell a story, all of the other ants stop and listen because that is the power of a good story. This message is also one that made my heart happy as I read it.

I also loved that there was no shunning or pushes to be different involved in the story. The ants loved Juan Hormiga for who he was and utilized him for his strengths.

Author Rivka Galchen called Juan Hormiga “magnificent and silly and tender all at once–a perfect book,” and I can attest that all is there: magnificent in the message and stories, silliness in the illustrations and conversation, and tender in the love for each other.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Students will love hearing this book read out loud, and it will lend itself nicely to a creative writing activity where students can create their own adventures for Juan Hormiga’s grandfather–what other adventures did he go on?

Discussion Questions: 

  • How is Juan Hormiga different from his fellow ants?
  • Why is Juan Hormiga so important to his colony even though he doesn’t do the same labor the other ants do?
  • The author shared that this book was inspired by nights when his family camped in the mountains and his mother told them stories. How do you see this inspiration in the story?
  • What do you think the author is trying to portray about the power of storytelling?
  • How do you think the ants feel when they find Juan in the willow tree?

Flagged Passages: 


Read This If You Love: Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel, Lucy by Randy Cecil, Normal Norman by Tara Lazar

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**Thank you to Elsewhere Editions for providing a copy for review!**

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2 Responses to Juan Hormiga by Gustavo Roldán, Translated by Robert Croll

  1. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a lovely book, and I’m thrilled to see that my library has it on Libby! The premise reminds me a little of Frederick by Leo Lionni, which I loved as a kid. Thanks so much for the great review!

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