I came across this book only recently when I found an essay written by its illustrator, Mike Curato, in which he talks about being openly gay in the KidLit community. It’s a concise but nonetheless heart wrenching timeline-esque recount of his journey to being totally and completely – if not completely comfortably – out as a gay/queer man and a children’s writer/illustrator. I found it moving enough to go out and buy WORM LOVES WORM to read to my own children, not just because it sounded like a cute story, but also because their books should reflect families like those in their everyday lives.
The book is by J.J. Austrian and tells the brief tale of two worms, in love. All they want to do is get married, but an officious cricket is echoed by a chorus of other bugs who insist the worms must HAVE THIS or DO THAT before they wed. The worms keep thinking, “NOW we can be married” but alas…not yet. But don’t you fret; it’s a happy ending.
This is a great tale that shows young readers they can choose their path based on what’s right for them *and also* accept other people’s choices. And what an important book for today’s children, many who see a spectrum of family iterations in their own lives and communities. This book works so simply to reinforce that it’s silly to get hung up on what’s “supposed” to be. If the heart is at the centre, acceptance is actually pretty simple.
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato. ©2016. Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HaperCollins Publishers.