Monday, June 9, 2014

Superworm by Julia Donaldson

Superworm by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Alex Scheffler

Rating: 5 stars

A few months ago I participated in the Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life March Challenge; every day I wrote a short or long (yup, mine were on the longer side…) essay about a snapshot within my life.  I do this on a weekly basis, but in March I wrote every day.  Because I was successful in my daily practice, my name was put into a drawing for a bunch of prizes.  And I won this book!  Thanks again to Scholastic for donating so many copies of them.

(Originally I thought I had won 16 books.  For clutter's sake, it was better that 16 of us had won one copy of this book!)

Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler are no newcomers to children's book.  They've given us many, many books, including: The Gruffalo (book for me is pretty good, but the movie version probably still gives poor Kiefer nightmares) and A Gold Star for Zog and my favorite Room on the Broom.  Donaldson is a great author to remember when you're at the library and need a starting place.  She writes really great stuff, and illustrator Scheffler makes those books even more magically funny.

Superworm is no different from the rest of her books.  It is fantastic!  The starting premise is so silly that my kids' interest was piqued as soon as I opened the envelope it arrived in.  A superhero worm?!  We were doubting the concept in just the right way--with smiles on our faces and hands grabbing for the book.  This we had to see!
That is one strong worm!

It turns out that Superworm is a hometown hero; he courageously does the right thing with his body that can transform into lots of different things.  He rescues a baby toad by becoming a lasso when the toad attempts to cross a traffic-y street.  He rescues a bug that's fallen into a well by becoming a fishing line.  Bees are bored, therefore he becomes a jump rope.  People (well, I mean bugs) love him so much they chant:
Superworm is super-strong!
Superworm is super-long!
Watch him wiggle!  See him squirm!
Hip, hip, hooray for SUPERWORM!
Therefore, when the Wizard Lizard kidnaps him and makes him dig up precious treasures, threatening to feed Superworm to his side kick Crow, the town goes crazy.  They want to help this hero who has helped them so many times.  Wonderfully, the insects all come together while the lizard sleeps and they defeat him in a hometown, this-is-what-we-do sort of way.  (I'm thinking of the scene from "The Three Amigos"… "We must sew!"  Anyone…anyone?)  Spider spins a web around him, the bees make him extra sticky, and another bug eats his magical flower leaf, robbing him of his magic.  They fly him to the town dump and leave him there wrestling the rubbish.

When Superworm emerges from underground, the happy town erupts in cheers--their hero is back!

It's worth closing your eyes and imagining a less imaginative book--with a person as a hero, rescuing kids instead of toads and bugs.  Nope.  That's just soooo to-be-expected.  A modest, humble, unassuming worm as a superhero?  Now THAT is funny and cute!  This is another wonderful book from Donaldson and Scheffler!

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