How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

How to Eat Fried Worms (1972) is so gross. It is totally a little boy’s book. The author, Thomas Rockwell, is the son of beloved American painter Norman Rockwell, and he was the recipient of the Mark Twain Award, the California Young Reader Medal, and the Sequoyah Award for Worms.  He wrote several other young adult books (most of them seemed to start with How to…i.e. Fight a Girl, Get Fabulously Rich, etc.), but Worms is the only one that most people remember.

I read this book when I was younger and was totally grossed out by the worm eating. I don’t care how much ketchup or whatever seasoning you use, I. WILL. NEVER. EAT. A. FRIED. WORM. I also did a presentation on this for my first class @ APU. I made this whole lesson plan for it. It was wonderful. N-e way, on to the review.

Believe it or not, this book was banned at one time or another in the United States. I can only guess it was because it encourages gambling- (a stretch). Another reason I read, which is kinda’ crazy, is because the boy is eating fried worms. This is deemed unacceptable behavior. I can almost understand that, but it’s just not flying with me. Boys/men make silly bets and do silly things. It happens, so just deal with it.

This book, as the title implies, is about how to eat fried worms. The man character in the book, Billy, must eat 15 worms in 15 days to win the $50 (which was a small fortune for a kid in 1972), which he will use to buy a bike. He thinks of all kinds of delightful ways to fix the worms to make them more palatable. He fries them, uses ketchup, and other things. I think the most disgusting part in the book was when the bully (I forget his name) digs up the biggest, blackest, most disgusting earthworm he can find for Billy to eat. I can remember wanting to barf after reading that. In the end, he eventually ends up liking the worms. DISGUSTING! I stick to my original opinion. Although this book is #96 of the 100 most challenged book on the American Library Association’s list, I say it shouldn’t be. It’s disgusting, but not bad enough to be banned.


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