Adventures and shattered illusions lead to true friendship in this tale of a chicken and a quick-talking worm.
Readers will just have to go with parts of this. Marcus the worm’s dreams of flying are interrupted when he’s suddenly dumped from a “Can-O-Worm” into the bowl of a chicken with “intense and menacing eyes.” Impulsively offering a cheery greeting, Marcus manages to stave off his imminent demise by engaging the easily distracted chicken—Laurence, it turns out—in conversation. It so happens that Laurence, convinced that he’s actually a flamingo, yearns to fly to Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park to join others of his supposed ilk. Marcus strings him along, and soon bird and worm are winging off on a tiring if truncated journey, highlighted by encounters with supposedly foreign earthworms with peculiar customs and a friendly squirrel with “terrible teeth” but great dance moves. Marcus’ gift of gab (plus a vaguely recalled anecdote featuring Robert the Bruce and a persistent spider) repeatedly comes in handy until Laurence’s dismal discovery that he isn’t anything like the local zoo’s real flamingos clears the way for professions of mutual friendship and heavy-handed ruminations on how kindness and respect lie at friendship’s heart. Lia adds very simply drawn pink and gray figures to nearly every generously spaced page of this quixotic episode.
Labored, particularly at the end, but daffy enough to fly. (Fantasy. 8-10)