Superworm: Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
December 19, 2013
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
Age Range: 3-8
Superworm is an upcoming picture book from the UK-based team that created The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Superworm is a large worm who is much loved for his flexibility and his willingness to help other creatures. When Superworm is kidnapped by Wizard Lizard, his friends set out to save him.
Superworm is relatively text heavy for a picture book. All of the text is in rhyming couplets, like this:
"Superworm is super-long,
Superworm is super-strong.
Watch him wiggle! See him squirm!
Hip, hip hooray for SUPERWORM!"
The above sequence is repeated a couple of times throughout the book, giving kids a chance to chime in. There's some less-common vocabulary, like "chant", "mope", and "lair" (each of which ends up working well with the appropriate rhyme). Personally, I found it a bit too much rhyming, across the whole of the book. But I suspect it's one of those books that grows on you through multiple read-alouds. Once I have the final printed version in hand, I will try it with my daughter.
I do quite like the creativity modeled throughout the book. The other animals and insects find creative uses for Superworm, treating him as a swing, a slide, and even a hula hoop. And when the other creatures set out to rescue Superworm, they each take advantage of their own strengths (the spider weaving a web, etc.). The villain has a satisfying comeuppance. Here's a snippet:
"The web is strong. The web is tough.
The web is plenty big enough.
The wizard wakes. "This isn't funny!
I'm wrapped in leaves and stuck with honey!"
Pretty sure kids WILL find that funny.
Scheffler's insect-scaled illustrations are colorful and eye-catching, with oversized flowers, and big-eyed, cartoon-like creatures. Superworm is pink and wrinkled, and usually has a smile on his face. While not quite realistic in their depiction, the garden creatures are impossible not to like. Young readers may never look at worms and other small creatures the same way again.
I recommend Superworm for home or library use. The U.S. edition is due out in late January, and is sure to be a hit.
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher
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