March 14 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of Just a Worm

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Just a Worm

By Marie Boyd

Worm is inching along on a beautiful summer day singing a happy little ditty: “La la la la… Slop, slip, wiggle. / I’m taking a little twirl. / Dop, dip, squiggle. / I’m off to see the world.” And so he was! But on his way he passed two kids who just didn’t see worm the way he saw himself and made him wonder…. Worm bolstered his self-confidence, telling himself that there were a lot of things he could do. 

Just then he wiggled up to a row of brilliant purple flowers, where caterpillars, a chrysalis, and a butterfly were hanging out. Just out of curiosity, worm asked one of the caterpillars what she could do, and—Wow!—when he learned about making a chrysalis and metamorphosis, and becoming a butterfly, he was impressed. And maybe a bit intimidated.

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Copyright Marie Boyd, 2023, courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

Butterfly also seemed to have multiple talents as did Spider and Dragonfly, who informed worm that he’d never be able to fly because he was “‘just a worm.'” Worm seemed resigned to his fate when he came upon ladybug and asked what she could do. Ladybug said, “‘I protect plants by eating insects, like aphids.'” This reminded worm that he did have a talent. “‘I eat dead animals and plants and keep the garden clean,'” he said with growing confidence.

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Copyright Marie Boyd, 2023, courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

By the time worm meets bee, he’s ready to advocate for his own contribution to the garden. Then when snail crawls by and tells worm about the slime that protects him, worm realizes he’s found a friend he can relate to because worm makes slime too! Snail thinks that’s pretty cool, and worm agrees! In fact, worm understands that he can do a lot of things and that many of them benefit the garden. He even lists them all for snail, and as he looks around at the beautiful flowers and luscious berries, he takes some credit for growing “all of this” and proudly states “I’m a WORM!”

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Copyright Marie Boyd, 2023, courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

Marie Boyd’s clever story combines salient information about a variety of insects with worm’s confidence-boosting journey from feeling inferior to the other garden dwellers to realizing his own role and importance in the plants’ growth and vibrancy. From page to page, readers can sense worm’s developing appreciation for his talents, and when he shakes off his misgivings and gives ladybug a small list of his accomplishments, kids will be right there to cheer him on. Readers may be surprised to discover just how much worms do contribute to a healthy garden ecosystem even as they come to understand that there is no such thing as “just a worm” in nature. Worm’s personal growth will also resonate with children, who are trying out new things and beginning to find their place in the world. 

Boyd’s beautiful and original illustrations, created with intricate paper quilling are wonderfully detailed, textured, and expressive of the uniqueness and interconnectivity of nature. She also weaves in metaphorical clouds, which at worm’s lowest point, turn grey and black as they build overhead. But with his newfound confidence, they dissipate to be replaced with white, fluffy clouds that also blow away to reveal a clear, blue sky.

A multilayered story that delivers two important life lessons in a unique and charming way, Just a Worm will become a quick favorite for home, school, and public library story times. The book would be especially fun to pair with home gardening or planting activities for classrooms, libraries, and extracurricular organizations.

Ages 4 – 8

Greenwillow Books, 2023 | ISBN 978-0063212565

About Marie Boyd

Marie Boyd is a law professor, author, illustrator, and self-taught quilling artist. Her author and illustrator debut, Just a Worm (Greenwillow Books 2023), follows worm through the garden as he learns about his neighbors and how he helps keep the garden healthy. Originally from Salt Lake City, Marie lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband and two young children. You can find her at marieboyd.com and on Instagram.

Just a Worm Book Birthday Activity

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Make a Quilled Snail

Author/illustrator Marie Boyd built worm’s gorgeous garden world with quilled paper, and now you can make worm’s friend snail for yourself with this tutorial on her website!

Quilled Snail Craft

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You can find Just a Worm at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

August 9 – National Book Lovers Day

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About the Holiday

If you love to read, then today is a day to celebrate! National Book Lovers Day has a simple goal: to provide a day for bibliophiles to indulge their passion. With so many incredible books available—both fiction and nonfiction—on every imaginable topic and for all ages, it’s easy to fill the day with old favorites and new finds (like today’s book, which is launching into the world today!) So, visit your local bookstore or library, grab some snacks, and settle in for a day of reading for yourself and with your kids!

Thanks go to Tundra Books for sending me a copy of If You Cry Like a Fountain to me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

If You Cry Like a Fountain

By Noemi Vola

 

Upon opening this story to the first page, readers are met with a sad sight. A pink worm, having just seen his empty swimming pool, stares out at the reader with doleful eyes and a big frown. The narrator admonishes the worm that starting out the book this way will only make people worry. How about a little smile? But this doesn’t help—in fact, the frown turns deeper and tears well in the bottom of the worm’s eyes. The narrator tries to stop the coming tears, but a suggestion to “try thinking of something happy” just causes a small tear to break free and then… a full-on flood. 

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Image copyright Noemi Vola, 2022, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Worried that the little worm might drown in its own tears, the narrator offers a couple of suggestions for staying afloat until the tears dry up. And they do begin to abate until the narrator tells the worm “there’s no use in crying,” which brings on—you guessed it. But wait! This isn’t a criticism. Instead it means to be a helpful (and hilarious) way to look at crying in a positive light. “For example, if you cry like a fountain, you’ll be surrounded by friends and make all the pigeons happy.” That’s a good thing, right?

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Image copyright Noemi Vola, 2022, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Let’s look at some other ways those tears could be channeled beneficially. If sadness overtakes you around mealtime, get out your biggest pot, “turn on the stove and cry until the pot is filled. When the tears start to boil, stir in the pasta. You won’t even need to add salt!” And why waste water to brush your teeth and fill the tub, when a good cry can prove advantageous here too?

Since tears can flow all year around, the narrator gives some tips on using them during the winter and when spring comes. There’s even a recipe for homemade playdough that can be done anytime and used “to make surprise presents for your friends.” Now that all is looking up, the narrator decides this might be a good time to remind readers that “everyone cries” even “…superheroes, kings, soccer players,… dogs, peas, and rocks” The worm doesn’t believe rocks cry, but then becomes apologetic when the narrator explains that rocks “are very good at hiding,” so no one has actually “ever seen a rock cry.”

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Image copyright Noemi Vola, 2022, courtesy of Tundra Books.

The narrator goes on to reassure will-be criers that tears are a “universal language,” understood everywhere in the…well…universe, and that shedding tears can eliminate an array of environmental disasters, such as exploding frogs and dried-up rivers. Our little worm friend is looking much happier now that all of this has been explained and there’s even tear-nurtured pears in the jar of jam it’s enjoying with caterpillar. But Oh no! The book—and the jam—are at an end, which are just the kinds of catastrophes that can… fill a swimming pool.

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Image copyright Noemi Vola, 2022, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Whether your household (or classroom) is made up of easy criers or those who are made of more stoic stuff, Noemi Vola’s hilarious, thoughtful, and wonderfully silly story will have everyone laughing while also appreciating the true benefits of not bottling up your emotions, but letting them flow. Vola’s seemingly random examples replicate the cadence of a well-told joke or the rapid-fire delivery of a child with an endless imagination.

Vola whimsically plays with shapes, textures, and perspective in her vibrant illustrations, where the characters’ large and copious tears flow in profuse but perfectly aimed streams to accomplish a myriad of tasks. Alert readers will recognize a few famous faces from literature and entertainment among the criers. The sensitive worm is an adorable companion on this journey of discovery, and readers will be glad to see that in the end happiness reigns supreme—at least until the next waterworks.

If you and your kids like your humor quirky, your characters unforgettable, and your themes thought-provoking, If You Cry like a Fountain should be at the top of your To Be Read List. Perfect for story times or discussions about emotions, the book would be an excellent addition to all home, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 7

Tundra Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-0735270503

To learn more about Noemi Vola, her books, and her art, visit her website. 

National Book Lovers Day Activity

CPB - Bookworm Book (2)

Bookworm Bookmark

 

For all you bookworms out there who love to read, here’s your very own Bookworm Bookmark to color and put between the pages of your favorite story!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print out the Bookworm Bookmark template
  2. Color the bookworm
  3. Cut out the Bookworm
  4. (Optional) Cut the Bookworm’s mouth at the dotted line. The top part of the bookworm’s mouth hangs over the page and marks your place!

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You can find If You Cry Like a Fountain at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review