The term ""worm"" covers a variety of unrelated creatures but Patent ties them together at the start with an appreciation of their convenient shape; it's easy then to understand why ""the success of this body plan has led to many kinds of wormshaped animals."" And throughout her well-organized survey of flatworms, roundworms, and annelids, she directs attention to how form matches function (""Why should annelids have a body divided up into so many smell compartments? What me is it, anyway?"") and how seemingly bizarre arrangements are in fact workable. (The Chinese liver fluke's ""life cycle seems very strange. . . . But a little thought can make some sense of it. . . ."") Besides engaging interest in each surveyed species as a unique variation on life's endless adaptability, Patent frequently notes the various worms' importance and relationship to people--as parasites, ancient remedies, delicacy, future food, etc.--and sometimes even invites readers to try out n worm's eye view: ""Imagine yourself crawling through the soil. . . . What a strange life. . . . But [reinforcing the principle] earthworms have everything they need for the kind of life they live."" With helpful drawings and diagrams, and a glossary that will come in handy for those inclined to confuse their oligochaetes and polychaetes.