Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Repeat Repeat Repeat

It usually appears out of nowhere.  Perhaps, a specific smell signals it.  A word or phrase may awaken it.  A few notes from another melody can revive it.  However it arrives, it is here to stay, refusing to leave.  It soundlessly follows you everywhere, sometimes for hours (or more).

At first, you allow it to play in your mind.  You may even hum along with it.  And, as hard as it is to say, you soon find yourself dancing.  In Ear Worm! (Candlewick Press, January 25, 2022) written by Jo Knowles with illustrations by Galia Bernstein, a worm, a tiny youngster of a worm, has a song firmly fixed in his mind.  He is puzzled by its appearance.  How did it get there?

One summer day, Little Worm went out to play and
discovered he had a song stuck in his head.

"Shimmy shimmy, no-sashay,
shimmy shimmy, no-sashay!"

he sang as he wriggled along.

Meeting his first friend of the day, Little Worm was told by Owl the meaning of an ear worm.  Of course, Little Worm thought that name was hilarious.  When he asked Owl if he put the song in his head, Owl said no.  He had his own song which he proceeded to sing.  There might have been some wing waving involved.

These two demonstrating their ear worm antics next met Chipmunk.  Chipmunk did not give the ear worm to Little Worm.  Chipmunk performed an equally original song and dance.  As the trio sang and moved to their own music, Bunny gently inquired about their songs and dances.  Little Worm was seeking answers and Bunny had her own answer.  Little Worm was feeling a tad bit discouraged.

Fox strolled onto the scene, sharing another different song and dance.  Now, there were five songs and five dances.  It was as if the members of an orchestra decided to stand up and dance their parts!  It was a party of happy-go-lucky participants!

Soon, Little Worm's father called him home for his nap.  Papa Worm wrapped Little Worm in his bed. Then, Papa Worm said . . .

In a lively blend of narrative and dialogue, author Jo Knowles introduces us to Little Worm and his four forest friends.  Little Worm's question to each friend and their subsequent response supply us with a rousing cadence.  Jo Knowles's use of alliteration and rhyming are an open invitation for reader participation.  You can't read this story without humming or singing or dancing or all three!  Here is a passage.

"That's not it at all," said Little Worm.  "But I like your moves!"
"Thank you," said Chipmunk.  "Mind if I join your search?"
"Fine by me," said Little Worm.




"Shimmy shimmy, no-sashay!"

they went along.

Do you feel something happening to you when you look at the front of the matching dust jacket and book case?  That something is spreading from the tip of your toes to the top of your head and it is sheer happiness.  Look at Fox, Owl, Chipmunk, Little Worm and Bunny.  Every single one of them are grooving to their own music, their own special ear worm.  Their body postures and facial expressions here, and throughout the book, portray camaraderie and cheer.  The title text and musical notes are varnished on the dust jacket.

To the left of the spine on the jacket and case is a canvas of white.  (White is used wonderfully throughout the book to highlight and elevate the characters, their expressions, and movements.) The text reads:

Who put that song in
Little Worm's head?

Little Worm is singing his tune next to two yellow daisies. 

On the opening and closing endpapers in pink hues on pink is a pattern of Little Worm in all his various dance moves.  His wide eyes and smiling face are a superb hello and goodbye for this book.  Prior to the title page, Little Worm is alone on a background of pristine white.  On the title page in the lower, right-hand corner is a clump of blades of grass.  The title text is spelled by Little Worm.  He twists and turns his body for each letter and the exclamation point.  

With each page turn, the artwork of Galia Bernstein, digitally rendered, welcomes us into the world of Little Worm and his friends.  Each animal, by their stance, reflects their characteristics.  They are highly animated, especially when they start to dance to their original ear worm.  The animals are brought close to the reader.  There is little more than them on a white canvas except when Little Worm first meets them.  A pine bough is next to Owl, an acorn is near Chipmunk, Bunny stands by two yellow daisies, and Fox is near blades of grass like Little Worm.  Readers will delight in seeing what Papa Worm uses to clean their home.

One of my many favorite illustrations is actually three smaller ones on a single page.  It shows Owl doing three more dance steps after the first display of a leg lift and wing spreads.  In the first one, Owl extends both wings forward as one leg kicks back.  In the second one, Owl bends back with both wings and one leg extended back.  In the final move, Owl is slightly bowed with one wing extended up and the other bent to cover his face.  Little Worm watches from the lower, right-hand corner.  (I can guarantee story time listeners might stand up and start to dance at this point.)

You will never feel the same way again about getting an ear worm after reading this book, Ear Worm! written by Jo Knowles with illustrations by Galia Bernstein.  The upbeat words and illustrations are a boogie-woogie dance delight that will have listeners begging you to read it repeatedly.  This would make a wonderful reader's theater.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Jo Knowles and Galia Bernstein and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Jo Knowles has accounts on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.  Galia Bernstein has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Jo Knowles wrote a guest post at the Nerdy Book Club about this title for the cover reveal.  At the publisher's website you can download a teacher's guide.  At Penguin Random House you can view interior images.

(My curiosity got the better of me.  I found an article about ear worms, Your Brain on Music: Earworms, The Kennedy Center.

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