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Author: Hicks, Betty
Ellison Ellis Coffey, a lonely fifth-grader, discovers he might have the special gift of talking to bugs and decides to use his ability to win his town's annual Woolly Worm Race.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 156493
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.20
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 52556
Kirkus Reviews (11/01/12)
School Library Journal (02/01/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (01/13)
The Hornbook (00/01/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/15/2012 Ellis Coffey’s life has its difficulties: Dad is injured and unemployed, but he can’t get back surgery until he finds $1,000 for the deductible; Mom works three jobs to make ends meet; and Ellis’ social life suffers because he spends after-school hours doing chores. Still, his love of animals convinces him he might be a worm whisperer, and he sets out to prove it by training a caterpillar for the annual Woolly Worm Race, where first prize is—you guessed it—$1,000. Naturally things don’t work out as expected, but Ellis learns that there is more than one way to reach a goal. Set in Banner Elk, North Carolina (where a Woolly Worm Festival occurs each fall), Hicks’ story provides plenty of local color as well as humor (Ellis can burp the national anthem). Side plots concerning a crush, a bully, and a teacher obsessed with vocabulary building enhance this story, and memorable scenes (Ellis and his caterpillar’s adventures in church, for example) make this a great read-aloud. Hatke's genial spot illustrations are standard but welcome. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2013 Ellis Coffey doesn’t get to spend a lot of time outside of school with his fourth-grade classmates. Even before his father became debilitated with a back injury and Ellis had to pick up the slack at home while Mom worked several part time jobs, their farm’s location well outside their North Carolina town made sustaining friendships pretty difficult. Now Ellis has discovered a way to combine family business with friendship and pleasure: if he can successfully train a caterpillar to climb up a string, Ellis can enter his new “pet” into the annual Woolly Worm Race, hang out with friends, and win the thousand-dollar prize which would cover the insurance deductible for his father’s back surgery. The story of a resourceful kid from a just-gettin’-by family in a rural backwater will resonate with Barbara O’Connor fans, who will recognize that a happy ending is inevitably just a hundred-plus page turns and some spot art away. The Woolly Worm Contest, with its cheering crowds and mock steroid checks, is worth the price of admission, and kids who have not had the pleasure of attending the actual Elk Banner, NC event in person may want to organize one in their hometown posthaste. EB - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2013 Gr 4–6—Ellis loves animals; he even senses that he can communicate with them. His unique talent may be the solution to his family's financial woes. When Ellis bonds with a woolly worm he finds on his family's blueberry farm, he decides to enter it in the town's Wooly Worm Festival race and hopes to win the prize money. Ellis achieves his goal, but in an unexpected way that is both realistic and emotionally satisfying. Caring for Tink encourages the boy to reach out to his friends and to several adults in town, all of whom are well-defined supporting characters. Hicks writes with a gentle, sure hand, bringing to life the rural North Carolina setting. Hatke's expressive illustrations perfectly capture the book's emotional warmth. Fans of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh (S & S/Atheneum, 1991) will enjoy this "boy and his bug" tale of responsibility, family love, country life, and a wise young hero.—M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.