Haas, Dan. You Can Call Me Worm. Houghton Mifflin, 1997. ISBN 0-395-85783-X. $15.00. 167 pp. B 6+ FI Reviewed by Wendy Bishop The Washington, D.C. suburbs frame most of the setting for Haas’ first book for children. Nicknamed Worm because he ate one when he was only seven years old just to prove how courageous he could be, Will Glasser stays close to his older brother Todd, who is respected by most of his classmates. The classmates don’t feel the same for Worm, whom they find to be very strange because of his inquisitive nature and annoying jokes. However, strange is not exactly the way they describe Worm’s father. He has been sitting on his roof for two days. Todd decides to pay his father a visit to see if he can remedy the situation. What Todd doesn’t expect is that his little brother will follow him. Together, the two must learn to get along. At first the journey seems fun, filled with adventures that lighten the survival scene, but when a couple of tough-looking kids steal their food and gear, survival takes on a whole new meaning. Emphasis is now placed on supporting one another. When Todd vents his anger by hitting a tree with his hand, which then swells up like a giant watermelon, Worm is left to supply food for both of them. Worm discovers there is a real satisfaction in working hard to help someone else besides himself. He also discovers the possibilities of more than one lifestyle when he meets Ricardo, who is bi-polar and lives downstream of Colonial Park in a tent and eats from garbage cans. Todd and Will’s journey concludes happily but not without conflict. However, Todd and Worm now feel a new sympathy and understanding for their father. Although girls may find the book lacking, boys will likely find Worm’s concerns and hopes to be much like their own. A good choice for those who live with loved ones whom they can’t seem to understand.
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