Just a Worm

Illustrated by Marie Boyd

“I’m not just a worm. I can do lots of things.”

Worm takes a journey through the soil, asking other insects about their skills and contributions within the garden after hearing two kids say it’s “just a worm.” First the worm talks to a caterpillar who says, “I can turn into a chrysalis and go through metamorphosis to become a butterfly.” The worm finds out about the roles of a butterfly, spider, and dragonfly. When worm tries to fly like the dragonfly, the dragonfly says, “don’t be silly/you are just a worm.” This makes the worm feel sad, until they meet a ladybug, bee, and snail who help the worm see that it plays an important part in making the garden bloom.

Just a Worm is a great picture book for teaching children about the roles of various insects and their importance in our environment. Marie Boyd uses an ecocentric perspective by centering a worm as the main character and emphasizing the interconnectedness of various insects and plants. For example, the snail tells worm that “I can crawl over sharp sticks and stones because my slime protects me. I also use slime to seal my shell when the weather is cold or dry,” after which worm has the revelation that “Hey! I make slime, too.” Worm realizes that their actions wiggling and digging in the soil are essential to helping plants get the air and water that they need, leading to a beautiful garden full of flowers. Readers see the world through the eyes of a worm and can see how, despite being a small creature, the worm has a huge impact on nature and providing for plants. The book is illustrated using quilled paper, which gives the story a visual texture that emphasizes how large the rest of the world is compared to the worm.

Teachers can facilitate these discussions around the significance of small creatures by asking students questions like:

  • What would happen to the garden if the worms disappeared?
  • How would our world be different if humans were the same size as insects?
  • Do you think any of these insects have a more important role than others?

©2024 ClimateLit (Rachelle Saint Louis)


Publisher: Greenwillow, 2023

Pages: 32

ISBN: 9780063212565

Audience: Ages 4-7

Format: Picturebooks

Topics: Animals, Biodiversity, Bugs, Conservation, Ecocentrism, Ecosystems, Insects, Interconnectedness, Land Care, Land Ethic, Nature, Nearby Nature, Plant Needs, Plants, Soil, Sustainability, Worms