________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 2 . . . . September 16, 2005


Lowdown On Earthworms.

Norma Dixon.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55005-114-8.

Subject Heading:
Earthworms-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Humble Heroes

Earthworms are not pretty. They are slimy and squirmy and brown. They have no eye, ears or legs. Pick one up, and it’s limp as a string. And who can tell its head from its tail.

Don’t be fooled by looks. Even without eyes and ears, earthworms can sense when the sun is shining and a hungry mole is nearby. They have no backbone, but they can push stones around and dig deep tunnels. They have a tiny mouth and no teeth, but they spend their lives eating through soil.


Generously illustrated with color photographs and illustrations by Warren Clark, the eight brief chapters of Lowdown on Earthworms provide, via brief paragraphs of reader friendly language, a superb introduction to this largely unseen creature which plays such a vital role in improving the globe’s soils. The opening chapter successfully makes the case for the worm’s importance in our world and briefly explains how you can spot the presence of worms. Chapter two deals with identifying what’s a worm and what’s not plus how to identify the three types of earthworms most readers are going to encounter. How to make a wormery from either a large clear plastic pop bottle or a small aquarium is the stuff of Chapter Three. Chapter four explains the worm’s outside parts and what each part contributes to the worm’s existence while chapter five does the same type of thing for the worm’s inside parts and, as well, describes worms’ eating habits and their method of locomotion. Those readers who have constructed the wormery described in Chapter Three can conduct the worm food experiment outlined in Chapter five. Chapter six, in addition to explaining the types of burrows favoured by each worm type, outlines the worm’s life cycle. A worm’s ecosystem is the focus of Chapter seven, and how to make a worm composting bin is the stuff of the book’s final chapter. Tidbits of additional worm lore are interjected into each chapter. For example, readers learn that the idea of cutting a worm into two to produce two worms is actually a myth, and that the robin you see, which is seemingly pecking at the ground in your yard, is actually tapping its beak on the ground to produce vibrations which will coax earthworms out of their burrows. Earthworms concludes with a “Glossary” and “Bibliography and Further Reading,” plus the URLs for a half dozen earthworm web sites. An excellent independent read or classroom resource.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and YA literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.


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