Don’t be reluctant to read How to Eat Fried Worms

March 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, illustrated by Emily McCully; published by Yearling Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, New York; 1973.

Ah, summer vacation.  Time to hang out with friends doing plenty of nothing.  Billy, Tom, Alan and Joe enjoy the first wonderful days of freedom but then start getting into trouble.  Trouble visits the group when, bored and full of bravado, Alan challenges Billy to a crazy bet: Eat 15 worms in 15 days!  Billy eagerly agrees; winning $50 would give him enough money to buy a dirt bike, and that would make summer break absolutely the best!  After reluctantly eating the first nightcrawler, Billy acquires a taste for the squirmers, especially when they are Southern fried or smothered with onions.  A worried Alan plots to undermine Billy’s challenge.  Who will win?!?

A reader of this blog asked me to review more movies.  So, on a visit to the local library, I was scanning through the children’s DVDs and saw the recent movie version based on this book.  I thought about a class I took in my undergrad program that compared and contrasted books and their cinematic versions and decided to read this book first then watch the movie.  How will they compare?  Well, watch for the review of the movie, coming soon, and I’ll take a look at how the two compare.

Usually, when I pick up a classic book I comment that I can’t believe I never read it.  In this case, I know why I didn’t read it: I do not like to read about eating gross things.  But, as a librarian, I diligently look for materials that reluctant readers (yes, usually boys) will want to pick up.  And boys gravitate to the gross, in my experience.  Especially boys in mid-elementary grades.  The publisher has put a reading level of 2.6 on this book, and I guess that second graders, facing summer vacation, could read this.  I think it’s more suited for slightly older readers, especially those who struggle with reading.

OK, I think I’ve postponed the review long enough.  Just like Billy, I found the book and all the ways to cook worms growing on me.  Rockwell’s style is easy to read, very conversational, and his descriptive passages move the story right along.  Readers, reluctant or not, will enjoy the short chapters and subtle humor.  Although the book was published more than 30 years ago, not much has changed as far as childhood posturing goes and the book withstands the test of time.

This book definitely belongs on the lists of materials for reluctant readers.  We’ll see how the movie holds up; maybe the book and movie belong in a to-go box with a non-fiction book about weird things people eat (or a book about worms).  Maybe I’d include a cookbook, too; the author includes several “wormy” recipes at the end of the book!  Yummy!  There may be a children’s program in that….


Entry filed under: Children's Chapter Book. Tags: , , , .

And the winner is… How to Eat Fried Worms revisited on DVD

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Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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