Ladis from slum sickliness and timidity to alfresco health and vitality via a share in the life of an anthill is not quite The Boy and the Whale (1964) but the conjunction of naturalism and fantasy is similar, and similarly suspect. With the addition here of considerable information on ant ways and means gleaned from ant friend Mufra, who shrinks Ladis to ant size by nipping him. And whereas Ladis' home life is all of a piece (even if all glum, the compleat picture of poverty), the anthill is sometimes not inappropriately a microcosm of human society, sometimes a substitute--as when Ladis teaches some of the ants to play football. At the close Ladis, who quailed initially at the sight of an ant climbing up his leg, provides relief for the flooded anthill in the form of food for the winter. The book has moments of some poignance but Ladis' transformation (just what the doctor predicted) is even less convincing than his initiation into ant life by Mufra. It is, however, one of the few contemporary Spanish translations we have, and may be wanted in large collections for that reason--also because the author was co-winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1967.