#1324 – Juan Hormiga by Gustavo Roldán


Juan Hormiga
Written and Illustrated by Gustavo Roldán
Translated from Spanish by Robert Croll
Elsewhere Editions—February 2021
64 Pages   Age 4—8

Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Storytelling, Adventures, Community



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 storytime, 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. (from publisher)

Opening Sentences

w“If there was one way in which Juan Hormiga was second to none, it was his way of taking a nap. Well, I should say naps, for he took six or seven every day. And that’s just if it was a normal day.”

Why I like Juan Hormiga

Juan Hormiga does two things well: siestas and telling stories. While his buddies work hard, as ants normally do, Juan Hormiga sawed z’s. Juan’s stories so regaled the other ants they didn’t mind Juan’s absence during the work day up on the anthill. Though Juan loved reciting his grandfather’s stories, it is his own adventures he wants to tell others about. To do that, Juan must leave his village behind and strike out on his own.

The ants love listening to Juan tell a story, even if they have already heard the adventure. It is the storytelling that engages the ants. The tone and body language contributes to the experience of listening to stories. Children will love listening to Juan tell of his grandfathers adventures as much as the ants enjoy this special time. Those who can tell a story in an engaging manner are not easy to find, but Juan is one of the best storytellers in the ant community.

Juan wants to tell his own stories, not just his grandfather’s adventures. Don’t we all have that adventurous spirit? So off he foes to find adventures he can eventually share with the other ants. The ants wonder what Juan is doing when he takes off alone to shores and adventures unknown. Each ant has his own idea where Juan is exploring and what he is doing. But then a storm bears down on the land and the ants worry about Juan on an adventure without any shelter. The storm is fierce. The ants are washed away with the storm’s strong streams of water. But their faith strong, they wonder what adventures Juan has engaged in during the storm. No one knows the true story, one involving Juan’s most loved activity. If they did, Juan wonders, what wil they think of him?

Children, and adults who love children’s stories, will admire the hard-working ants and their desire to live adventurous lives, even if only vicariously—through Juan Hormiga’s tales. Juan will have readers wanting to find their own adventures, with some writing those stories for others to read or telling them to people they trust.

Juan Hormiga, the story, will help readers engage in their own stories and possibly even be willing to relate their tales to others. Every community needs a storyteller to pass on stories and history to younger generations. Juan Hormiga keeps his ant friends engaged, enthralled, and always wanting more.

Reading Juan Hormiga, and the (backmatter) notes from Gustavo Roldán and Robert Croll, made me wonder about the stories in my life and what I would tell if I told them. How will Juam influence your stories? Will you pass them on or keep them for yourself?


Gustavo Roldán and Robert Croll have both written a note to readers, telling of their childhood homes and the adventures each experienced while a young boy.

Mr. Roldán’s, first written as he originally wrote, shown in his native Spanish. On the facing page is an English translation of his note so all may read it.  Children may be surprised to find the author never had a television. Instead, his father regaled the family with stories. If not dad, mom was reading aloud The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to the family. It seems an easy deduction to say Gustavo Roldán’s love of telling stories came from his parents.

Mr. Croll speaks of a childhood lived in a small mountain village where the dogs outnumbered the people. A neighbor taught the young Robert music, which he still loves, and the names of plants. He tells us of his love of lemon cloud pancakes and writing songs for his guitar. Mr. Croll is also a photographer. He takes pictures of spaces which seem to change the more you look at it.

Learn More About Author & Artist Gustavo Roldán:  Blog

Learn More About Translator Robert Croll:

Available at Amazon:  Juan Hormiga

Juan Hormiga. Copyright © 2012, 2021 by Gustavo Roldán. Translation from Spanish to English Copyright © 2021 by Robert Croll. Published by Elsewhere Editions, New York, NY.

Originally published by A buen paso

Copyright © 2021 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[451—word count-review only]

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4 thoughts on “#1324 – Juan Hormiga by Gustavo Roldán

  1. Thanks for introducing me to the story of Juan Hormiga. It sounds great! I’m excited to check it out.


  2. Juan, I like your first activity – napping – best of all. I also like adventure. Yesterday during the snowstorm, I dragged Mom back inside when she wanted us to take a walk in the blizzard. I’m pretty sure I saved her life.

    Love and licks,


    • Cupcake, Your mom sounds like quite the adventurer and you can always be the Juan to tell her stories.

      But you certainly deserve an award for saving your mom’s life. If she won’t give you one, go for a new bed instead. Something roomy, comfortable, and warm. Definitely warm.


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