Title: Poet: Worm loves Worm
Written by: J. J. Austrian
illustrated by: Miike Curato
Published by: Balzer & Bray, Jan 5th, 2016
Themes: celebration of love, marriage, wedding, worms, equality
Worm loves Worm.
“Let’s be married.”
says Worm to Worm.
A worm meets another worm and falls in love. One proposes; the other accepts and the worms want to get married straight away. Their insect friends though, insist that things be done properly, as they have always been done, with: best beetles and bride’s bees, cake and of course a white dress and tuxedo. But who will wear what. Despite their friends insistence on tradition, Worm and Worm decided they can both be bride AND groom because it doesn’t matter.
The last lines are sublime.
Why I like this book:
I LOVE this book. This is the perfect picture book, truly. The message is simple, profound, unusual, relevant for kids and adults. Funny and adorable. Everyone should read this Austrian explains through simple dialogue between Worm, Worm and their entourage, how sometimes we just must change “how it’s always been done,” and it is not difficult. Why? The age old message, because love matters more than traditions. Congratulations, John and Mike, on Worms’ love story and wedding. Yes, buy this for Valentine’s day, but buy it anyway for your kids and classrooms!
Mike Curato’s illustrations bring each character to life, especially the worms. I love how the rings can be worn as belts above their bumps. It made me think of the wonderful story of Edie and Thea, who wore rings as broaches because of the non-accepting prevailing attitudes in the 60’s towards lesbian couples. The choice of leaving lots of white space hones the readers’ focus on the protagonists and their willingness to work with their friends’ wedding proposals yet their uncompromising stance of love is what matters.
Mike Curato dedicated the book to his husband Dan, whom he married in 2013 right after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State. He finished illustrating the book in February of 2015, four months before the Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was legal for all citizens. Maybe I am reading in too much, but I sense this personal appreciation of the message of equality in all these brushstrokes!
Certainly on one level the story can be read as tackling the subject of same sex marriage, or asexual marriage, with fun and a feather-light touch. This will go over many kids heads and I would only address it if young readers bring the subject up. Children are naturally tolerant and will accept this message without questioning.
I shall definitely be recommending it to our elementary school library. Great debut from Austrian.
Check out my interview with Mike Curato here.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.