Samantha Smith (text) and Melissa Johns (illustrator), Harriet’s Hungry Worms, EK Books, May 2023, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781922539472
Harriet’s hungry worms explains the basics of worm farming through a light-hearted, engaging story accompanied by gorgeous collage style images.
Harriet diligently feeds her worms a different meal daily from Monday through to Sunday and watches and waits for them to do something interesting. But nothing seems to change. Just as she despairs that worms are “so BORING”, Harriet discovers a surprise – they’ve produced worm wee which is excellent for fertilising the veggie patch.
There’s a satisfying neatness to the narrative pattern which playfully repeats descriptions of the worms’ meals on each day of the week and leads to a plot complication with Harriet’s disappointment in no change after Sunday. The worms’ anthropomorphised responses to their daily meals are humorous – On Monday they munched muesli, spitting out the orange peels through to snacking on Sunday’s smashed scrambled eggshells. The last double spread page is dedicated to short “worm facts” that tie the narrative to more formal explanations of worm farming.
But best of all is the originality of the attractive, collage style images created from recyclable materials. Varying patterns and textures in earthy colours abound on each page, without appearing too cluttered. Amongst the many lovely and interesting images are the patterned circles that make up worms with drawn-on cute, cartoon style faces; Harriet with red yarn for hair, pink dots for cheeks and floral-patterned dresses; and a shaggy looking dog.
For schools, many English and STEAM teaching opportunities arise from this book and the publisher has provided detailed teacher notes and activity worksheets.
It is also a fun picture book for any 3-6 year olds and their families to enjoy as an engaging, humorous way to learn about worm farming.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz