When was the last time you contemplated the ant (scientifically known as myrmecology)?
ANTS: For most of us, these busy insects are not a welcome sight, especially if found in our homes or picnic baskets (or restaurants!) It’s probably been since grade school that these organized and diligent little creatures really caught your attention. At El Gaucho, we have recently been reminded of all we can learn from these fascinating creatures, thanks to one of our talented coworkers.
Rudy Roca, a server at El Gaucho Bellevue, remembers discovering ants as a boy at home (and, he admits, trying to suck them through a straw). After much observation, he became fascinated with their entire culture and social system. So much so, that he decided to write and illustrate a book about them, which was just published by Novik Design. It is currently available on iBooks, and will soon be available on all other digital platforms (Apple for the iPhone version, as well as Google Play, and Amazon’s Kindle) as well as print version.
Simply titled ANTS, this brightly and beautifully illustrated children’s book relays observations and facts about the astounding characteristics of ants, and what we, as humans, can learn from them. Some of the terminology for children is meaty, since it uses words like “perseverance” and “diligence.” Accompanying definitions and famous quotes, as well as illustrations woven in with the text, make it approachable for kids, simultaneously introducing them to new vocabulary. The book see-saws between the simple observations of ants’ unique, complex social characteristics, and how these relate to humans, making it a fun family read. One illustration shows how ants build their houses and defend them, then explains how ants develop strategies for defending themselves. The book also contains fun facts, like “there are more than 36,000 kinds of ants,” and “the life expectancy of an ant is 45-60 days.” While the recommended age for the book is age 7+, children of all ages can learn something from the book!
ANTS has been a labor of love for Rudy, and a work in progress for over four years. In 2008, he heard a sermon about ants, which jogged his memory back to his encounter with the insects as a boy. This coincided with a point in his life when he was traveling a lot to spend time at home with his dad in Connecticut, who was battling prostate cancer. Throughout his life, Rudy had shown his illustrating and writing talent by creating his own greeting cards for his family and friends on special occasions. His father saved every single one, and before he died, asked Rudy to share his unique talent with the world. “Your art is your gift,” he told him. “Promise me you’ll share it.” The request is even more notable coming from a fellow artist; Rudy’s father was a successful Argentinian leather craftsman whose specialty was high-end women’s handbags.
Four years later, Rudy has made good on that promise (surely a noble trait that we share with ants!). Rudy admits that the book he’s created is exactly how he envisioned; the cover illustration is himself as a boy, watching ants share a piece of popcorn.
From all of us at El Gaucho Hospitality, we wish Rudy the best of luck on the sale of this colorful and entertaining book. May it grace the shelf of many a bookstore and home!
For more information, visit his website: rudyroca.com