THE WORMS THAT SAVED THE WORLD - a review of a brilliant children's book

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THE WORMS THAT SAVED THE WORLD is an illustrated children’s book about a rebellious group of earthworms who fight to save their home from a luxury golf course that takes over their headland. Written by Kevin Doyle and illustrated by Spark Deeley, the book introduces us to Connie and her friends as they band together to save their community and their home. 
 
 
At first, the worms try to make do but the growing pollution combined with the new owners’ intolerance force them to take action. They realise that they cannot win against the powerful golf club on their own so they seek the help of other animals who share the headland with them. They are a determined and inventive community of worms and in the end the win back control of their home. (Hurray!) The story was inspired by a famous campaign that took place at the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork, Ireland in the early 2000s.
 
A note on the struggle…
 
The Old Head is one of the most spectacular beauty spots on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. In 1989, a property developer purchased the promontory to build a luxury golf course on the headland. The ‘exclusive’ development would restrict traditional public access to the walks along and around the Old Head. A public campaign got underway to oppose the annexation. This took the form of ‘picnics’ followed by ‘mass trespasses’ on the headland. The millionaire businessman appealed to the Irish courts to uphold his right to control movement on the headland and eventually he won. As a WSM article put it at the time, “the Supreme Court effectively said, ‘Money is King’”. Today access to the Old Head is very limited – unless you have lots of money and you like to play golf.
 
Inspiring children to stand up for what is right
 
Knowing Kevin, we anarchists of the WSM were sure the book was going to be great before even reading it. BUT it was so brilliant, simple, and creative! No gender-normative princes and princesses to be found in this children’s story. Instead, the book’s heroes are small animals, connecting with young readers who might recognize their own little-ness when dealing with adults. Moreover, as the numbers of refugees, migrants, and homeless people continue to grow in our capitalist society, the book conveys a powerful empathy for all those uprooted by outside forces, for all those displaced from their homes. We especially liked how the book presents collective resistance to capitalism in very understandable ways, with beautiful illustrations of democratic assemblies and communal support. Spark Deeley’s illustrations are just beautiful, with animations and colours running riot on the page.
 
The Worms That Saved The World has been a real labour of love. The mainstream publishing industry tends to favour ‘celebrity’ children’s book writers as sure-fire sellers. Rather than let the story languish, Kevin and Spark went ahead and published it themselves. We’re really glad they did! The story reminds us that we need to organise collectively and practice solidarity if we want to challenge the powerful and wealthy in our society. We’re all looking forward to a book launch in Dublin where we will definitely get a copy for the little people in our lives!

 

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