Beginning readers who tunnel through this upbeat first introduction will “dig” them too.
After an opening look at several kinds of worm (including the candy sort), McCloskey drills down to the nitty-gritty on earthworms. He describes how they help soil with their digging and “poop” (“EEW!”) and presents full-body inside and outside views with labeled parts. He also answers in the worms’ collective voice such questions as “Why do you come out after the rain?” and “How big is the biggest worm in the world?” that are posed by a multiethnic cast of intent young investigators in the cartoon illustrations. A persistent but frustrated bluebird’s “Yum, yum!!” and rejected invitations to lunch offer indirect references to worms as food sources, and reproductive details are likewise limited to oblique notes that worms have big families “born from cocoons.” Single scenes mingle with short sequences of panels in pictures that are drawn on brown paper bags for an appropriately earthy look.
Norma Dixon’s Lowdown on Earthworms (2005) digs deeper into the subject, but this lays fertile groundwork for budding naturalists. (Informational picture book. 5-7)