Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Eat Fried Worms

How to Eat Fried Worms
Thomas Rockwell
Dell, 1973  127 pgs
Grades 3-5
Realistic Fiction/Humor

Billy claims that he'll eat anything.  On a slow summer day Billy makes a $50 bet with his friend Alan that he can eat a worm a day for fifteen straight days.  The terms are that Alan gets to pick the worm and that Billy must eat it whole, although he is allowed to cook it and flavor it however he likes.  Seconds are chosen and the bet is on!  After Billy overcomes the initial disgust and fear of eating a slimy worm, he begins to enjoy himself.  He dine's on worms boiled, fried, and fricasseed with every kind of condiment imaginable.  That's when the competition gets ugly.  Alan and his second concoct devious plans to try to trick Billy out of eating his worm, including trying to get Billy's mother to stop him from eating the worms.  As the bet nears to a close the boys get desperate and their once close friendship evolves into a battle royal.  Does Billy manage to eat all fifteen worms and win the bet?  Read the book and find out!

Every once in a while I like to re-read a favorite book from my childhood to see if it stood the test of time and is still relevant to today's youth.  How to Eat Fried Worms is indeed a step back into a past where children run wild all summer, coming home when it is time for dinner.  The parents are have stereotypical roles and their are no girls in sight in this all-boy world (a female character is added to the 2006 movie).  Certain terms the boys use (they love to call each "finks") also dates the book, as does the complete absence of electronics.  Although How to Eat Fried Worms is a step into the past it is still an enjoyable read.  The title itself is a winner begging kids to pick it up.  The chapters are short, the book reads quickly, and humor abounds.  Rockwell doesn't bog the book down with heavy messages and subplots.  It is a straight forward business with a satisfying ending.  Rockwell knows the world of boys and what makes them tick.  Worms is solidly a "boy book", but, and I am proof from my own childhood, will also be enjoyed by girls. Put it in the hands of reluctant summer readers.   This forty-year-old book still does the job, offering slightly gross fun and hi-jinks.

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