Carl and the meaning of life

Deborah Freedman, 1960-

Book - 2019

When a field mouse asks Carl the earthworm why he tunnels through the dirt, Carl doesn't have an answer, so he sets off to find out.

Saved in:

Children's Room Show me where

0 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jE/Freedman Due May 11, 2024
Children's stories Pictorial works
Picture books
New York : Viking Books for Young Readers 2019.
Main Author
Deborah Freedman, 1960- (author)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Carl the earthworm spends his days burrowing underground, eating hard dirt, and turning it into fluffy soil. But when a field mouse asks him why he does this, Carl is stumped and sets off to find out. The tiny pink annelid crawls through the grass and makes inquiries among a variety of animals. A rabbit reveals she lives for her babies, but child-free Carl knows that can't be his raison d'être. Next, he approaches a fox, whose purpose is to hunt, and then a squirrel, whose nutty habits cause trees to grow. Yet no one knows the meaning behind Carl's subterranean activities. As he continues his journey, the neglected ground around his home turns hard and uninhabitable. Returning to this barren landscape, Carl finally understands how he fits into the bigger picture, and he happily gets to work converting the dirt into rich soil. Freedman demonstrates how one tiny creature can make a big difference and is an important part of an ecosystem. Her simple storytelling is supported by fabulous illustrations, created with watercolor and pencil, that cut away to show Carl underground the text following his undulating path. Vibrant greens and softly rendered animals populate the surface terrain, upon which Carl appears as an adorable squiggle. This spare but endearing story will help youngsters understand the wonder and interconnectedness of nature.--Julia Smith Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Freedman introduces Carl by telling readers what he is not: "Carl was not a bird" (nor a bear, nor a beaver). Carl is an earthworm, and he lives underneath the other forest animals. A cross-section of soil shows Carl next to a curling line of type describing his daily activities: "burrowing, tunneling, digesting dead leaves... turning hard dirt into fluffy soil." When a field mouse asks him why he does what he does, Carl's search for answers keeps him away from his work, and the earth dries up around him. "I can't find any grubs!" cries a ground beetle. With that, Carl understands his purpose. Freedman's spreads shows how tiny organisms help to keep the natural world in balance in this inventive worm's-eye view of the web of life. Ages 3-5. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Carl is an earthworm who spends his day tunneling through the soil. When a field mouse asks him why he does what he does, Carl realizes that he does not know-but he is determined to find out. Carl visits with Bear, Rabbit, Fox, and others who are aware of their own purposes, but not Carl's. It takes a tiny ground beetle to enlighten him. Nature-inspired watercolor illustrations are gentle and inviting. The text appears in a simple black font, complementing the artwork. When Carl is busy at his job, the text is white against the brown earth and meanders across the pages, following Carl's tunneling track. Tiny black eyes and communicative postures express the attitudes of Carl and the other animals. But on the last page, when Carl finally learns his raison d'etre, readers also see a hint of his satisfied smile. VERDICT This book is a poignant example of the important contributions of even the smallest creature, but it's better than that-it's a science lesson as well. Freedman subtly explains the delicate balance of nature and each creature's role in maintaining it. Carl is an endearing protagonist.-Lisa Taylor, Florida State College, Jacksonville © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Carl is an earthworm, always moving under the ground, digesting leaves and turning hard dirt into fluffy soil. When a field mouse asks him why he does that, Carl suffers an immediate identity crisis. He heads up and out into the world to see if any of the other animals can tell him his purpose and the meaning behind his actions. No one has any answers for himnot a mother rabbit, a haughty fox, or a nosy squirrel. After a long time spent questioning rather than burrowing, Carl suddenly realizes that there are no longer any animals to ask since, with the earth having turned barren and dry, they have all moved on in search of food and shelter. It is here that Carls epiphany leads him back down into the soil, doing his work and making it rich again. Animals return, seeds sprout, and clover blossoms once againthanks to Carl. Freedman (Blue Chicken, rev. 1/12) wraps up her story with a light touch, leaving it to readers to deduce the role of an earthworm in maintaining ecological balance. Carls existential woes are illustrated via delicate earth-toned watercolors on expansive, full-bleed double-page spreads; playfully winding type is used on the spreads showing Carls burrowing habits. The words the meaning of life in the books title allow young readers to use their inferencing skills, as the storys message is clear but not explicitly stated. A brief authors note is appended, inviting readers to think about how they, like the indomitable Carl, help the earth. julie Danielson March/April 2019 p 58(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Earthworm Carl works busily underground, burrowing, eating, and depositing soil-enriching castingsuntil a field mouse asks, "Why?"Carl suspends his usual activities to find out, querying a rabbit, fox, squirrel, and many others until, over time, these very creatures are compelled to travel away for sustenance. When a ground beetle despairs, "I can't find any grubs!" Carl realizes that the soil he has neglected has become hard-packed dirt. Suddenly, his purpose is clear. "For hours into days, weeks into months, Carl munched, digested, left castings, and tunneledand turned that hard dirt back into rich soil." The returning animals appreciate the results: sprouting seeds, blossoming clover, and an integrated ecosystem made possible by earthworms like Carl. Freedman's digitally assembled watercolors feature washes of green, yellow, ocher, and brown. She augments her speaking cast of woodland animals with additional small creatures for children to discover. A brief but pithy author's note celebrates the interconnectedness of all creatures, including the reader. A quote from Darwin on the importance of the earthworm completes the package.A pleasant, simplified examination of the significance of the lowly earthworm, just in time for garden encounters. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.