Creepy Crawly Critter Journals: Diary of a Worm and Diary of a Spider
For those young readers who love books that combine the gross and the gloriously goofy, Doreen Cronin is the reigning queen of creepy-crawly lit. Her Diary of a Worm chronicles the journal entries of an engaging, baseball-capped young annelid who details what life is like keeping up with his eight-legged buddy Spider in his own game, but legless, style. Although the young worm studies his school textbooks diligently (Compost 101 and Digging: A History), he runs into a little extracurricular trouble trying to do the Hokey Pokey with his friends:
Last night I went to the school dance.
You put your head in. You put your head out.
You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about...
That's all we could do.
He even teases his endlessly primping teen-aged sister by saucily telling her
that "her face will always look just like her rear end."
Cronin's sequel, Diary of a Spider, continues her spoof of the confessional journal through the entries of Worm's buddy, Spider. Spider recounts the trials and tribulations of living the arachnid life--sleeping over at Worm's house and having to eat compost for dinner and having Fly sleep over, only to have to un-stick her from the family's cobwebbed walls. When Spider and his sister visit the park, nothing happens when they try the seesaw and the tire swing, so they make their own fun by spinning webs over the public drinking fountain and watching the hapless humans scream when they try to take a drink.
When Spider molts and takes his ex-exoskeleton to school for show-and-tell, the teacher calls on it to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. At Spider School the Safety Day lesson is devoted to escaping vacuum cleaners, but Grandpa Spider's personal safety mantra is "Never fall asleep in a shoe!"
Harry Bliss's cartoon-style illustrations are a perfect foil to Cronin's matter-of-fact narrations. A new sequel by Cronin and Bliss, Diary of a Fly, is forthcoming in the fall of 2007 and is sure to, er, fly to new heights of creepy-crawly humor and draw tons of giggles and wiggles from the picture book set. If Cronin & Bliss can convert arachnophobes and scoleciphobes into fans, maybe they can accomplish the same for the much maligned and be-swatted housefly!