The Book Worm
By Lisa Kuhnley
When Kati opened her favorite book she got a terrible surprise. The pages were filled with holes. Gone was the princess’s crown, gone were the dragon’s wings, and all that remained of the brave knight was his left boot.
“Who could have done this?” Kati asked. Then she heard a chomping sound. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. It was coming from inside the book.
Kati flipped to the last page. There she saw a green worm no bigger than her pinky. He had big round eyes and a little pink mouth. The worm licked his lips and took a great big bite out of “happily ever after”. Chomp!
“Mmmm. Delicious. I love happy endings,” the worm said. Then he saw Kati. “Uh, oh.”
The worm dove through a hole in the page. Kati turned the page and reached out her hand to grab him. But the worm was too quick. He popped out of the castle moat, slithered across the magic bridge and leaped through a hole in the sky. Kati slammed the book shut.
“Let me out,” the worm said.
Kati opened the book and dropped the worm into a glass jar. “You ate my favorite book,” she said.
“Was it your favorite too?” the worm asked. “I never would have guessed. There wasn’t a bite mark on it.”
“That’s because I don’t eat books. I read them,” Kati said.
Before the worm could say another word Kati put a lid on the jar. She shoved the jar in her backpack and rode her bike to the park. There she let the worm out under a bush.
“What am I supposed to eat now?” the worm asked.
“What worms are supposed to eat,” Kati said. “Dirt.”
All week long Kati mourned the loss of her book. She felt as though her best friend had moved away. The only thing that cheered her up was the promise of a trip to the library.
The sun was shining as she danced up the library steps and opened the door. But when went inside, she got a terrible surprise. The librarian was leafing through a book filled with holes.
“Who could have done this?” she asked.
Kati knew who it was. She hurried to the children’s section and listened. Nothing. She knelt down on the carpet and pressed her ear against the books. Still nothing. She scooted down the row and listened at each shelf.
Then she heard it. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.
Kati snatched the book off the shelf and flipped it open. Sure enough, between pages nineteen and twenty was the worm. He gobbled up a mouthful of trees and let out a tiny burp.
“Gotcha,” Kati said. She scooped up the worm and dropped him in her pocket. Back at home, Kati ran straight to her room.
“Let me out,” the worm said.
Kati pulled the worm out of her pocket and dropped him back into the glass jar.
“Drop me off at the bus stop this time,” the worm said.
“I’m not taking you anywhere,” Kati said. “I have to keep an eye on you to protect the city’s books.”
“What do you want me to do?” the worm cried. “Starve?”
The worm looked so sad that Kati couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. She searched all over the house for something he could eat. She brought him a newspaper, some junk mail and three coupons for dishwashing liquid. But the worm would eat none of it.
“I am a book worm,” he said. “That means I eat books.”
Kati went to her bookshelf. Surely there was a book she could give him. But as she ran her fingers over the spines of her story books, she knew she couldn’t bear to part with any of them.
“I might have one book you could eat,” Kati said. She reached into her backpack and pulled out her math book.
“Uh, uh,” the worm said. “Numbers give me a stomach ache.”
“What are we going to do?” Kati asked. She couldn’t let the worm eat her books. But she couldn’t let him starve.
Then she had an idea. “I’ll write you a book.” She grabbed some paper and colored pencils and began to write. When she was done, she read to the worm.
“Once upon a time there was a humongous book-eating worm,” Kati read. “He ate all the books in the kingdom but he was still hungry. ‘Give me books,’ he roared. The king sent his bravest knights after the worm, but the worm defeated them all.
Finally, the princess had an idea. She gathered up all the scraps of pages she could find and left a trail all the way to the castle. The worm gobbled up the scraps and followed the trail to the castle, down the stairs and into the dungeon. The princess locked him in and fed him math books for the rest of his life. The end.”
The worm made a face. “It’s no good,” he said. “I can’t eat a book with an unhappy ending.”
“Fine,” Kati said. She got a fresh sheet of paper and changed the ending. “But the princess felt sorry for the worm so she taught him to read and write. Once the worm started writing he couldn’t stop. Soon the kingdom was filled with books and he always had plenty to eat. The end.”
“Much better,” the worm said.
“So you like it?” Kati asked. “Is it good enough now?”
“Yep,” the worm said. “It’s good enough to eat.” Chomp!
The worm liked Kati’s book so much that he wanted to write too. Kati and the book worm wrote many books together. But they always wrote two copies. One to read. And one to eat.
1. What did Kati find on the last page of her book?
2. Where did Kati put the worm?
3. What was she listening for in the library?
4. What idea did Kati have?
5. Why did Kati and the worm always write two copies of their books?