The Barnes & Noble Review
A worm's wriggly life is never dull, and in this refreshingly original picture book from Doreen Cronin -- author of the Caldecott Honorwinning Click, Clack, Moo -- and illustrator Harry Bliss, one little critter talks about its highs and lows in a series of totally hilarious diary entries.
From March to August, the baseball capwearing worm records his thoughts and feelings about friends, family, digging, and eating. Armed with his mom's sage advice ("Never bother Daddy when he's eating the newspaper" is one of the most important) and a fairly positive attitude about life, the "underground dweller" gets a kick out of scaring girls on the playground, hanging out with friends (literally, hanging out with Spider), cutting the rug at school dances (getting farther than "put your head in" during the hokey-pokey is impossible), and other school-worm activities. Of course, a worm's life isn't all fun and games, especially since worms can't chew gum or have a dog, but they never have to go to the dentist or take baths! And while the little worm says life is tough because sometimes people forget worms exist, dear old Mom reminds him that "the earth never forgets we're here."
Pairing Cronin's wry storytelling with Bliss's comical, cartoonish illustrations, this charmer touches a range of emotions, ultimately tickling readers' funny bones as they see worms in a whole new light. Scenes of the poor worm sitting pensively under a mushroom and imagining himself as a Secret Service agent are truly priceless, while Cronin's economical, thoughtful use of language is the perfect tone for a little worm experiencing life. Although he's small, this prolific fellow has a heart and a story that are grand indeed. Matt Warner
The New York Times
In Diary of a Worm, Doreen Cronin, the author of Click, Clack, Moo, teams up with Harry Bliss, a New Yorker cartoonist. They sprinkle tiny clods of digestible earthworm facts onto a happy wormworld that children will find reassuring, even alluring.
Cronin's beguiling journal entries by a worm who can write are as witty and original as the missives from her popular cows who can type (Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type). With his red baseball cap and good-natured humor, the titular hero is a winning American Everyboy, and young readers will identify with his escapades in part because they mirror their own. Bliss's (A Fine, Fine School) clever endpapers feature photos of the worm on his first day of school and on a family vacation to Compost Island, as well as his report card (he gets an "A" for tunnel, a "Pass" for Squirming). He makes his friend Spider "laugh so hard, he fell out of his tree," and he tells his sister that "her face will always look just like her rear end." But in addition to being like the hero, youngsters will also enjoy seeing their familiar world from a worm's vantage point. "It's not always easy being a worm," he says. One of the bad things is that a worm can't chew gum; one of the good things is that worms never get cavities (they have no teeth, he points out). At a school dance, a line of worms does the hokey pokey, putting their heads in and out and turning themselves about ("That's all we could do"). Bliss's droll watercolor illustrations are a marvel. He gives each worm an individual character with a few deft lines, and the varying perspectives and backgrounds enhance the humor of the text (especially a view from the sidewalk up, illustrating "Hopscotch is a very dangerous game," with a girl's sneakers about to descend). Inventive and laugh-out-loud funny, this worm's-eye view of the world will be a sure-fire hit. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Our worm hero is introduced on the cover, writing the diary that is the text. His prize photos and mementos are taped into the end papers. With his jaunty baseball cap, he is far more than the average worm. In entries from March to August, our narrator has adventures with family, friends, and hopscotch players, goes to school, learns lessons and wisdom from his family, does an unforgettable "hokey pokey," and puts in some good words for ecology. He's a real charmer with a sense of humor. Bliss's cartoon characters in context tickle our funny bones. A bed is made from an empty tea bag carton, the worm youngsters sit around mushroom tables, one worm has a scraggly beard. Designed mainly as vignettes, the illustrations emphasize the actions in the variety of the worm's experiences through the days, similar in many ways to those of human youngsters. 2003, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 4 to 8.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-A down-to-earth invertebrate comments on friendship, family life, school, and his place in the universe. An amusing worm's-eye view of the world, with a tongue-in-cheek text and wry illustrations. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Each turn of the page will bring fresh waves of giggles as a young worm records one misadventure after another. He tries to teach his arachnid friend how to dig a tunnel; learns the peril of hanging out on a sidewalk during a game of hopscotch; suffers a nightmare from eating too much garbage before bedtime; makes a one-piece macaroni necklace in art class; earns a parental reprimand for telling his older sister that "no matter how much time she spends looking in the mirror, her face will always look just like her rear end," and much, much more. Bliss gives this limbless young diarist a face and an identifying red cap, adds plenty of sight gags, and just to set the tone, plasters (painted) snapshots on the endpapers captioned "My favorite pile of dirt," "My report card" ("Needs to resist eating homework"), etc., etc. Readers will come away with the insight that worms may not be so good at walking upside down or doing the Hokey Pokey, but they do play an important role in taking care of the Earth. Not so different from us, after all. (Picture book. 6-9)