Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 2 - How to Eat Fried Worms

Module 2 -- How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Rockwell, Thomas. How to Eat Fried Worms. Bantam Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 1973. ISBN: 0-440-44545-0

A conversation about eating dinner becomes a contest and a bet between 4 boys, pitting 2 pairs of friends against each other. The bet is to eat 15 worms in 15 days and Alan and Joe will do anything to stop Billy from winning the $50 promised as the prize.

What I think about eating... I mean, reading Fried Worms:
First of all, the book is a grabber. The title is great and the pictures on many versions of this book really make kids (and adults) want to know more. My kids wanted me to read to them after seeing the cover and I did. The second thing about this book is that at first, I found the conversation and the style of writing difficult to follow. My two kids were a little lost at first two when I read out loud to them (then they got hung up on the idea of "Salmon Casserole," eww). However, once I got used to the rather spare writing, I enjoyed it. There are a lot of neat little allusions to different things (real life battles, for example), that kids may not get, but as an adult, I enjoyed. The letter from the "doctor" with the medical sounding jargon that was completely made up was a hoot!

Another thing about this book that I think was pretty neat was how cool the adults in the story were. The adults in the story were all good role models. They supported the integrity of the bet and never called it stupid or tried to get the kids to "worm" out of it. Billy's mom even makes up some interesting worm recipes for Billy to eat. I liked that the adults supported the boys throughout the story.

Outside reviews:
"Tom, Billy, Allen and Joe are best friends, but that friendship is put to the test when Alan challenges Billy to eat 15 worms in 15 days. If he does it, Allen will give Billy $50. If he doesn't, well, Allen gets to call Billy a chicken for the rest of his life.

The rules are simple: Billy can prepare the worm any way he wants, and he can glop as much ketchup and mustard on the worm as he likes, but if he misses a day, he loses the bet.

How To Eat Fried Worms is a wriggly little work of youth fiction full of lively characters, hilarious situations and punchy, quirky dialogue. The main characters are colorful and, above all, very believable. These boys went to your school, live on your street and play baseball with your kids.


How To Eat Fried Worms is a terrific read for young and old, and, like a big nightcrawler, is best when it's shared. The writing lends itself to being read aloud and the subject matter is icky enough the engage even the most jaded 10-year-old."

Paterson, P. (2002). Why I loved "how to eat fried worms". Retrieved from http://booksiloved.com/11/How_To_Eat_Fried_Worms.html

Using this book in the library:
After poking around on the web, I noticed that a lot of schools and libraries had done programs with the book and the movie together. Then kids helped make "fried worms" to eat using various recipes that involve gummy worms, hot dogs, spaghetti noodles or other ingredients.  I like these ideas. Having kids read the book, coming back for a discussion about it and then rewarding them for their hard work with a fun, hands-on recipe and movie day would be very motivating for a lot of kids. The book is engaging and the reward of the movie should help even reluctant readers stay engaged. After the movie, another discussion can take place about the differences between the book and the movie. Students could be invited to create their own scripts... There are a lot of options!

Just for fun: 
An actual fried worm recipe. Author attribute is wrong, unless Judy Blume did try them...

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