Review Blog

Apr 17 2017

Worm loves Worm by J.J. Austrian

cover image

Ill. by Mike Curato. Balzer & Bray, 2016. ISBN 9780062386335
Worm loves Worm. So they decide to get married. It shouldn't be a problem but suddenly all their minibeast friends chip in. "You'll need someone to marry you. That's how it's always been done." You'll need a best man, bridesmaids, rings, a band... and so on and so on, because "that's how it's always been done."
Worm and Worm agree to each suggestion hoping that after they acquiesce they can get married but no... there is always something else. So when they are told that they need to have a bride and groom, worms being hermaphrodites, they have no trouble with being either or both - but that isn't how it's always been done. Will they ever just celebrate their love by getting married???
This is a charming book that, on the surface, is just a story about two worms wanting to get married because they love each other, and that, to a four-year-old is a natural thing to do. It is just a celebration of love. For those in different circumstances or a little bit older there is a sub-text of marriage equality and things can change - things don't always have to be because they have always been. It's enough to love each other without all the other trappings; it's about inclusion and equality and showing affection regardless of any traditional views and values that have been imposed on a natural state of mind. That's what little ones understand and accept - intolerance is something they learn.
Choosing worms as the main characters is a masterstroke because there are no physical differences between worms - there is nothing to say which is female and therefore the bride or male and therefore the groom. So the central message of love being the key ingredient and the rest of the elements of a wedding just being seasoning remains the central theme. Perhaps some of our politicians and those who influence them should read this and get to the core of what really matters.
A great addition to a school library collection that allows children to see their own family structure in a story, to show others that there are all sorts of family structures, and to explain marriage equality to those unfamiliar with the concept.
Barbara Braxton

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