This Is a Book to Read with a Worm

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, illus. by Margaret McCartney. Charlesbridge, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58089-897-3

Just in time for spring, Wheeler-Toppen (Cat Science Unleashed) invites young scientists to head outside for an up-close-and-personal earthworm encounter. Her interactive activity guide uses a conversational narrative to speak directly to readers. “Run your fingers across your worm’s back. Feel the bump-bump-bump as you slide across the rings.” McCartney’s picture book debut employs digitally colored ink and pencil cartoons featuring a pair of curious children who carefully observe and enact the suggested mini-experiments. Materials such as a wet paper towel, flashlight, plastic bag, and cotton swab are used to learn about a worm’s sensory reactions and locomotion, culminating in the final project: making an overnight “worm hotel” from a plastic bottle. Speech-bubble asides from a worm in fashionable John Lennon glasses and scarf provide additional facts and occasional humor. Though prefaced with a note reminding experimenters to “Treat me gently and... put me back where you found me,” these hands-on observations of a living creature are likely most appropriate alongside a monitoring grown-up. Illustrated back matter anticipates further questions with plenty more worm facts and a resource list. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)