Owly & Wormy, Bright Lights and Starry Nights by Andy Runton
When the first Owly book came out years ago, I made sure to get it into the hands of my own reluctant reader. Unburdened by the need to read words, he immediately took to both Owly and Wormy. I’m happy to say that the series has continued to be just as good as that first book. Runton has started to do more picture book versions as well and this is one of those. In this book, Owly and Wormy go on a trek out of the woods and up to a hill where they will be able to view the stars better. Along the way, they get caught in a rainstorm and take refuge in a cave. There are strange and frightening noises and their telescope has disappeared! It will take real bravery and no fear of the dark to figure out what happened.
This wordless picture book relies on its illustrations to succeed. Happily, Owly and Wormy have a warm friendship that is evident from the very first page. Add the dash of darkness, the storm and a really dark cave and you have a real adventure. All of the content is ideal for the youngest independent pre-readers who will enjoy having a graphic novel of their very own.
Runton takes fear of the dark and the unknown and turns it into a chance to make new friends and see new things in this strong addition to a great series. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Worms for Lunch? by Leonid Gore
Through bright colors and die cut illustrations, young readers explore what different animals eat. The book begins with the question of “Who eats worms for lunch?” A mouse declares that he doesn’t eat worms, instead he likes cheese. A relieved worm disappears from the page. Then a cat spots the mouse, and says that that’s what she would like for lunch. She ends up with a bowl of milk. The cow then declares that milk may be good, but grass is better. On the book goes, moving from one animal to the next until finally the question of who eats worms for lunch can be answered!
This entire book has a great sense of play and humor about it. Every other page has a die cut, making the book more enticing for young children to experience. The simple text and the bright colors combine into a book that is just right for toddlers to enjoy. They will enjoy turning the page and having the story change too.
With its large illustrations, this would work well with a group of children. A good pick for a toddler story time about food. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic Press.
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Yucky Worms by Vivian French, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
A young boy was in his grandmother’s garden when she found a worm. He is disgusted by it, but his grandmother insists that he should be friends with worms. She then returned the worm to the ground to demonstrate which end of the worm was which. The book goes on to discuss in the grandmother’s voice different aspects of worms, what they eat, how they survive the winter, what worm castings are, and how they help the plants in the garden. The illustrations are light-hearted but can quickly become scientific when called for. This is a great blend of picture book and nonfiction facts presented in a winning way.
French’s use of a grandmother narrator works well here, framing the nonfiction in a story that makes it very approachable. It also allows the narrator to explain misconceptions that the young boy has about worms, like the widely held belief that worms can be cut in two and still survive. Not true! Ahlberg’s illustrations offer asides by the worms themselves, a mole carrying a grocery list, and wonderful views of below the ground.
A great book to share with children who want to know more about these wiggly creatures in the garden, this book reads like a picture book and offers facts for children who are looking for them. Readers of the book will quickly learn that worms are far from yucky. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer by Carol Brendler, illustrated by Ard Hoyt
Winnie loves earthworms. She knows all sorts of facts about them, pulls them around in her wagon, and even races them. But when the county fair rolls around, she realizes that there is no category for her beloved worms to compete in. She speaks with three neighbors. One is growing corn for the fair and needs a good fertilizer. Another is raising chickens and needs the right feed to make them the best egg layers. And the third is raising puppies and needs something to get their coats shining. She makes a deal with each of them that if she finds the answer to their needs they will share the prize with her. Then she uses her worms to help with the corn, the corn to help with the eggs, and the eggs to help with the shiny coats. It’s a clever solution from a bright, scientific girl.
I love any book that breaks with the stereotype of girls not liking worms, dirt or animals. Winnie is a great protagonist for a picture book because she shatters that myth. She holds and hugs worms with delight. I also appreciate how intelligent she is and how she solves her own problems by using her brain.
Brendler’s text is fun to read aloud. She has taken a traditional tale format and modernized it. Readers will find themselves in a traditional format and be surprised, which is delightful. Hoyt’s illustrations are funny, sometimes frenzied, and wiggly with worms. Any worm haters out there will love the reaction of Winnie’s cat as it grimaces about the worms she loves.
A strong heroine in a modern picture book, this wiggly mass of worms is loads of fun. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from library copy.