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The Worm by E. Gravel

Gravel, Elise. The Worm. Ed. S. Swenson. Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2014. Print.

Elise Gravel is a Quebec based author and illustrator known for producing original, quirky picture books.  In 2012 she won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration in French for her book "La clé à molette". Her background in graphic design easily lends itself to illustration and is exemplified in her latest work, The Worm.

First in Gravel’s Disgusting Critters series, The Worm humorously introduces its readers to the history and lifestyle of the worm. The narrative is both informative and playful, balancing each worm-fact with a pithy commentary from the worms themselves, saying things like “Hey…I’m not disgusting!” and “Feel these [muscles].” Different types of worms are given a quick spotlight, such as the tapeworm, flatworm, and white worm, and extra attention is paid to the earthworm because, as an image of the worm exclaims, “[its] the most popular!” Gravel’s text is highly stylized, using different yet consistent typeface throughout to emphasize key words and concepts; the worms themselves are depicted in pink and can be seen looking into a little blue purse, flexing its (metaphorical) biceps, and dining inside the belly of animal (parasites!).

The Worm seamlessly introduces interesting and important worm-facts (like the fact that earthworms are “basically a long digestive tract” and that they sense light via their photoreceptors because they have no eyes), and it does so in a medium that is delightful and downright charming. What’s even better is that it is available in both English and French, making it a perfect candidate for any bilingual classroom or home. This picture book is appropriate for early readers, ages 6-8, or anyone wanting to learn about worms. Other books in the Disgusting Critters series like The Fly, are also worth exploring.

Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Jessica Thorlakson

Jessica Thorlakson is a Public Services Librarian at the University of Alberta’s H. T. Coutts Education and Physical Education Library. She has a background in English Literature and enjoys little more than reading a good book and drinking some tea.