Worm Loves Worm CoverThis was author J.J. Austrian’s debut picture book and boy did he make a first impression.

  • Title: Worm Loves Worm
  • Author: J.J. Austrian
  • Illustrator: Mike Curato
  • Reading level: 4-8 years
  • Date published: January 5, 2016
  • Publisher: Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins
  • Country: USA
  • Country printed in: China
  • Eco-friendly Printing: None specified
  1. GREAT DEBUT

In press interviews Austrian said the story was inspired by his son’s reaction to how his friends, two women, couldn’t be married: “That’s dumb. Pam and Leanora love each other.”

Austrian filters a big, often messy issue down to its heart: love. It’s an entertaining, tightly-paced story based on a real-world experience.

2. CHALLENGING HOW IT’S ALWAYS BEEN DONE

Like the real world debates on same-sex marriage, Austrian’s text says you don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done, i.e. for this matter, there are different ways and the norms can be challenged:

“Wait!” says Cricket.

“That isn’t how it’s always been done.”

“Then we’ll just change how it’s done,” says Worm.

Eventually, after challenging various traditions and how “things have always been done”, Worm and Worm go on to throw a wedding and get married.

3. UNIVERSALITY OF ANIMAL CHARACTERS

Illustrator Curato married his husband in 2013 so for him it was a real case of ‘worm loves worm’. For both author and illustrator, the book comes from a personal place but they’ve used animal characters to make it universal. There’s nothing quite like using animals to make that big leap!

Note: This review has been added to and edited from its first publication on Jul 7, 2018 on the Instagram @emmyloveschildrensbooks