cover image Ear Worm!

Ear Worm!

Jo Knowles, illus. by Galia Bernstein. Candlewick, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362

When Little Worm finds a song stuck in his head—the words “shimmy shimmy, no-sashay” slither in the air above his pink, plump body—handsomely feathered Owl informs him that the name for this phenomenon is an “ear worm.” As Little Worm inquires about the tune’s source, Owl and the rest of Little Worm’s animal friends reveal that they too have insistent, internally playing tunes of their own. Each is rendered in a different mélange of typography: Owl ends his own with an emphatic “Talk to the WING,” The Bunny’s “Hip-hop, thump, jump” builds vertically, and when Fox sings “Rah-Rah, trot to me!” the words seem to march forth. In her picture book debut, Knowles’s (Where the Heart Is) high-spirited, cumulative text bops while Bernstein’s (I Am a Cat) marvelously expressive, digitally rendered characters boogie against a minimally detailed background; the abundance of unabashed, openhearted energy may remind readers of their own grooves. After a rambunctious multispecies dance party, Little Worm finally toddles off to nap with the mystery of the ear worm’s origin unsolved—until he hears his father singing as he does chores. It’s a didn’t-see-it-coming dad joke that should prompt a chortle of recognition from kids and grown-ups alike. Ages 2–5. Author’s agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Alex Gehringer, the Bright Agency. (Jan.)