French, Vivian. Yucky Worms. Illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg. Candlewick Press, 2010. 28 pages. $16.99. ISBN9780763644468.
“You can’t be friends with a worm. You can’t even tell which end is which,” our narrator tells his Grandma. Grandma is a big fan of worms and she has lots of fascinating tidbits about how they live and what they do. This nonfiction picture book has a narrative as the boy and his grandmother explore the garden and Grandma extolls the virtues of worms. Young readers and listeners will appreciate the worm facts that are woven into the narrative: what worms eat, how to identify their poop (the scientific term, cast, is also used in the text), how worms sense movement nearby, and how worms move, among many others. In addition, there are facts and diagrams sprinkled throughout the text, worm “speech” bubbles, an index, and tips on how to be a “wormologist.” By the end of the story, our narrator has been won over to worms and is ready to consider them friends.
What a perfect book for springtime! The strength of this book is that it can be read at many levels. For Kindergarteners, the story text imparts lots of information through the narrative. Older children may enjoy a closer look at the facts and worm commentary throughout the text. Paired with Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer (Brendler), or Diary of a Worm (Cronin) there could be some great classroom discussion of comparing the texts, or mapping the information gleaned from the three stories.
The illustrations by Ahlberg are light and upbeat, and the diagrams and under-earth views are especially interesting. Students seem fascinated by the subterranean views of what’s going on in the dirt beneath their feet. Ahlberg created a two-page spread that shows how worm tunnels help make room for plants to spread their roots.
ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2011.
Science, Biology, Nature, Ecology, Gardening
Wiggling Worms at Work (Pfeffer) has lots of worm facts, including how worms help plants to grow.