Nicki Greenberg, Worm, Windy Hollow Books, July 2016, 32pp., $25.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781922081605
Worm is the visually dazzling and gently thought-provoking new picture book from award winning author and illustrator, Nicky Greenberg. We first meet worm as he squirms through the warm, earthy tunnels of his underground home, and apart from the odd tarantula encounter, life is pretty simple:
…eat dirt, poo dirt, wriggle forward, eat dirt, poo dirt, wriggle forward…
Until one day, worm begins to wonder if there might be other worms in other tunnels. Deep in thought, he takes a wrong turn and before he knows it, he is lost! And not only is he lost, but worm he has done something unbelievable… he has tunnelled right up to the surface! For the first time in his life he is outside and things will never be the same again.
Worm is confronted with a whole new world, a terrifying and wondrous place where there is an up and a down, an above and a below, an around and a behind. The garden truly is a place beyond his wildest dreams and worm is awestruck, not to mention filled with questions.
As we turn the pages the reader is transported from the cosy darkness of worm’s underground world to a garden of neon colours, sharp edges and cleverly reflected light. A collage of corrugated shiny paper, shimmering sequins and beads set natural objects ablaze. Familiar garden shapes appear refreshed so that early readers can share in worm’s experience and understand his perspective. The simple text stands out against soft-white wiggly lines that reminded me of worm’s underground world.
One double page spread looks fractured, slashes revealing another layer of artwork below, giving a twisting kaleidoscopic effect. My favourite illustrations though, are those that feature the glorious night sky with an impossibly iridescent full moon and thousands of glittering pinpricks that make up swirling galaxies that meander across the page, once again reminiscent of worm’s tunnels.
My children absolutely loved this book, as I’m sure any young reader would. The amount of positional vocabulary facilitated a great teaching opportunity, and the book could easily be used to encourage children to find out more about earthworms, particularly their life cycle, and where they like to live. It would be a fantastic tool to introduce a worm farm, or to simply inspire a beautiful day and night display, with children collecting a mixture of shiny and natural objects to help create their artwork.
Reviewed by Lisa Hoad