I’ve raised two city boys…both completely wigged out by bugs, spiders, worms, etc.. Having grown up in the country, I’m always amused by their reactions. One of my favorite moments was an early fishing expedition. “Great, we’ll need to get a cup of worms!” I couldn’t wait to share this experience with them…after all what was better than a cup of worms? “Gross, no way!” – they both let me know that the worm thing was not going to be part of their fishing ritual.
As a child, getting the cup of worms was part of the day I spent with my grandfather (he’s in the background on his dock). In my mind I’m much more grown-up than the six or seven year old in the picture. He was a man of few words- so I guess the whole be-quiet-while-you-fish concept suited him well. Looking back, I realized that he put up with my constant chatter about “when do you think we’ll get something?” “we’re going to put it back? right?” (we always put them back), “do you think we’ll ever catch that really big cat fish?” If I got really bored (almost every time), I would jump into the water and dive for mussels (we were never allowed to eat them)…he never seemed to get upset that I was disturbing his fishing. It was our time.
My early fond experiences with worms is probably why I love Yucky Worms (Candlewick Press) by Vivian French and beautifully illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg. In this spot-on early science book, it’s the little boy’s Grandma that shows her grandson how useful worms can be in the garden. The story is full of information without being dull or preachy–and the illustrations of what’s going on above and below the garden are the type of pages children will enjoy poring over. In addition to the story, there are little factoids throughout the book that will also appeal to kids that love knowing trivia about the world around them. For a full review of the book, visit www.toyportfolio.com. We have given this title an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Book Award.
Please note that Yucky Worms does not discuss using worms as bait…but because my mother knows of my love of worms, she told me to stop playing with the bubbles today and read this book. I’m glad she did. Great science books for kids are hard to come by…Yucky Worms hits just the right balance of story and information for young readers.
The big cat fish? On our last fishing adventure together (I was now a teenager and rarely joined my Grandpa on the dock), we finally caught it. I was so scared by the whiskers, the thrashing-that I remember screaming, crying and laughing until my grandfather forcibly got it off the hook and back into the water. I think he was even a little taken aback by the ferociousness of this particular fish. We sat there for a while – taking in that we had just accomplished, a goal we had shared for years – even if the whole moment wasn’t exactly what we had had in mind. We did it. My grandfather died not long after.