100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Review: Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner

Marty McGuire Digs Worms!
By Kate Messner
Illustrated by Brian Floca

Scholastic Press

ISBN: 9780545142458
Grades 2-4
In Stores

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

While I have a hard time remembering, well, a lot of things (truth be told, this blog = my external book memory), I do remember the contest in 3rd grade to see who could keep an ice cube from melting the longest (hint – use sawdust, my friends). Point is, in the life of a child, a good old fashioned contest can leave lasting impressions. Kate Messner understands this. Her latest installment in the Marty McGuire series hits the school story sweet spot of a plot involving a school-wide contest, full of believable characters, with a little introspection for good measure. It’s a winning combo.

When third-grader Marty McGuire attends a special assembly on saving the environment, she doesn’t know what to expect. What she and the rest of the school gets is a call to action. The presenter challenges students to see who can come up with the best project to help the environment. Marty (with the help of her grandma) comes up with a  wonderful, and wonderfully gross idea – a composting bin full of worms to help reduce waste in the lunchroom. Once installed, however, things aren’t as simple as initially thought. Marty has to disappoint her classmates when it turns out the worms can’t handle food scraps from the entire school. There’s a solution to this problem, bit it takes some reflection from Marty.

I mean no harm when I say the text is breezy. The pacing and style of writing keeps things on the lighter side – well-suited for the early chapter book audiences.

Brian Floca’s black and white illustrations are such a natural fit for this sort of story, subtly enhancing the text with their spot-on sense of emotion and humor.

A school story well-suited for these “go green” times, Marty McGuire Digs Worms! is a natural choice for collections everywhere. Here’s hoping this series has a long run.

Review copy from the publisher.

Watch. Connect. Read. and Sharpread are hosting a Marty McGuire book club on Twitter (’cause that’s how they roll). Click here for details.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.