Ear Worm!

by Jo Knowles (Author) Galia Bernstein (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A musical treat for the ear and eye, this antic tale of a worm on a mission doubles as a cozy bedtime book. One summer day, as Little Worm heads out to play, he discovers he has a song stuck in his head. "What's that you're singing?" Owl asks, but Little Worm can't say. He wriggles past, determined to learn who filled his head with "Shimmy shimmy, no-sashay." Owl flaps along with a song of his own, and before long Chipmunk, Bunny, and Fox fall in line, each contributing an ear worm to the joyful cacophony. Amid all the singing and dancing, Little Worm forgets his musical mystery until later when--surprise!--Papa Worm tucks him in.

Hip, vintage-inspired illustrations and whimsical typesetting meet movement, sound play, and comic, cumulative delights in a picture book that will charm media-savvy children and their parents alike.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2--Knowles attempts to explain what happens when people remember the words and melody of a song and sing it to themselves constantly. Throughout the book, a baby worm searches for the creature that put an ear worm in its head, meeting others with the same problem along the way. An owl, a squirrel, a chipmunk, and a rabbit all have their own ear worms. When the baby worm goes home for a nap, readers will smile to learn who is the source of the song. This one-joke tale does little to explain what an ear worm is, and the journey to understanding hints at a cumulative effect but never achieves a pace or rhythm. VERDICT The analogy of an ear worm is not explained well enough for young readers or English language learners to comprehend; the idiom of an ear worm is totally lost in the story.--Tanya Haynes, Meyer Elementary/Lamar CISD, Stafford, TX

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

When Little Worm finds a song stuck in his head--the words "shimmy shimmy, no-sashay" slither in the air above his pink, plump body--handsomely feathered Owl informs him that the name for this phenomenon is an "ear worm." As Little Worm inquires about the tune's source, Owl and the rest of Little Worm's animal friends reveal that they too have insistent, internally playing tunes of their own. Each is rendered in a different mélange of typography: Owl ends his own with an emphatic "Talk to the WING," The Bunny's "Hip-hop, thump, jump" builds vertically, and when Fox sings "Rah-Rah, trot to me!" the words seem to march forth. In her picture book debut, Knowles's (Where the Heart Is) high-spirited, cumulative text bops while Bernstein's (I Am a Cat) marvelously expressive, digitally rendered characters boogie against a minimally detailed background; the abundance of unabashed, openhearted energy may remind readers of their own grooves. After a rambunctious multispecies dance party, Little Worm finally toddles off to nap with the mystery of the ear worm's origin unsolved--until he hears his father singing as he does chores. It's a didn't-see-it-coming dad joke that should prompt a chortle of recognition from kids and grown-ups alike. Ages 2-5. Author's agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator's agent: Alex Gehringer, the Bright Agency. (Jan.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

The easy repetition invites listeners to join in. . . . A rollicking read with a gentle bedtime closing.
—Kirkus Reviews 

This title may soon become a most-requested storytime favorite. Large, charming illustrations, created digitally, depict an enthusiastically singing and dancing troupe. The typeface changes position, size, and font, adding energy to the happy tale.


A delightful new picture book chock full of inventive lyrics and colorful, fun wildlife illustrations. . . . Lavishly illustrated, this title is sure to delight children and leave them with ear worms of their own.
—School Library Connection
Jo Knowles
Jo Knowles is the renowned author of several middle-grade and young adult novels, including See You at Harry's, Still a Work in Progress, Where the Heart Is, and Jumping Off Swings. Ear Worm! is her picture-book debut. She lives in Vermont.

Galia Bernstein is the acclaimed author-illustrator of I Am a Cat and Leyla. She lives in Brooklyn.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2022
School Library Connection, 11/01/21

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!