Ruby the Red Worm's Dirty Job Make-A-School Project. Pictured here are the student illustrators standing in the shape of a worm and the message, "We love worms.".

Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job

A story about composting and overcoming bullying in favor of the bigger picture.

Ruby The Red Worm's Dirty Job. A story about composting and over-coming bullying in favor of the bigger picture. By Scott Stoll.

Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job

As featured in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Synopsis: Ruby the Red Worm is a humorous and educational introduction to composting and the essential role worms serve in the ecosystem. More importantly, it is a story about living a life of passion despite life’s bullies — even if it means eating dirt.

Note: This is an inspirational and educational introduction to composting with some life lessons. It is not a book about how to raise worms though we hope it inspires you to do so. The reading level is between a children’s picture book and a children’s chapter book; however, we design our books to be interesting for all ages. We want the parents to enjoy reading it just as much as the children enjoy listening.

More ways to order

  1. Order at your favorite local bookstore. I recommend Bookshop.org. They donate 100% of the profits back to your favorite local bookstore.
  2. Order at your local library. Try Hoopla to get the e-book from your library. It’s free.
  3. Order on Amazon. This is a great option if you would like to leave a review and help the book find an audience.
  4. More e-book options.
  5. Add to your Goodreads list.
  6. Even more ways to order.

Part of the Make-A-Book Project

This book was part of the Make-A-Book Project. The books are meant to be inspirational, educational and entertaining. The stories are written by Scott and illustrated by elementary students and jam-packed with fun surprises and suggested activities. The black and white pages leave plenty of room so children can add their own drawings and colors.

Update: Over a thousand people came to the ice cream social celebration and had their book signed by the student illustrators.

A aerial view of my message. It could read "We ♥ worms" or "We heart worms" or "We love worms."
Here is the final retouched picture for Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job. My camera wasn’t big enough, so I need to splice to pictures together. I think it adds to the effect. Thanks to the Waukesha STEM Academy.

Ruby the red worm sock puppet
Ruby the red worm sock puppet. Young kids think being read the story by the sock puppet is absolutely hysterical. I mean that. I’ve never seen kids laugh so hard. Making your own sock puppet is super easy: Buy any red sock and stick on some googly eyes.

More about this book: This children’s chapter book is full of rich, conceptual drawings that complement a story that grew and grew as the students continued to inspire me to write new pages to match their wonderful drawings. It is a particularly important book, as it is the first book not about me, but something much more important — worms! I’m glad to see that being green is a topic that finally has finally reached critical mass in the mainstream consciousness. And Ruby the Red Worm illustrates many subjects from composting and recycling to a passion for living a harmonious life. The book also includes a page of challenges to help kids find hidden surprises in the story. During the first draft of the story, Ruby the Red Worm was known as Redford.

“The mission of the STEM Academy is to engage, inspire, and empower a community of learners in thinking, collaborating, innovating, and creating for the future.” Therefore this project gave the students the opportunity to apply these principles to their learning and everyday life—literally creating a dream and turning it into a reality. This project also sowed a lot of collateral creations, such as a name-that-bug contest, worm farms, musical theme songs for the characters in the book, the class photo pictured above, illustrator book signing, media exposure, and much more.


Inspirational, Educational and Entertaining

Every book in the Make-A-Book project has three main themes. First, they are meant to inspire students. Second, they educate students, so students can put their inspiration into action. And third, they are entertaining, which serves as a hook to get the students involved. You can see these themes in the pages below.

A picture of Ruby living in a fallen apple.
A picture of Ruby living in a fallen apple. In another version of this drawing, Ruby says, “I live in the Big Apple,” which is a nickname for New York City. We always get so many great drawings that we just can’t use them all.
Illustration reads: Step 1) Worm eats dead flower. 2) Worm poops. 3) Poop turns into soil. 4) Seed sprouts in fertile soil. 5) Flower blooms. Repeat.
A picture of the compost cycle. This student thought of the idea of illustrating this as the circle of life from the point of view of the worm which starts with decay rather than life. It couldn’t be any better. This is one of many pages about the educational theme of learning about composting.
Ruby is crying and the flowers are drooping
In this book, there is a big theme of bullying. That’s why it’s called “Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job.” This has a double entendre. It is a dirty job because Ruby lives and works and eats dirt, but also the other bugs think of it as a gross job that no one would want to do. But of course, it is a very important job that creates fertilizer for flowers.
Ruby is admiring beautiful flowers that she helped create. "I *heart* flowers."
Spoiler alert: At the end of this story, we realize that Ruby doesn’t have a “dirty job.” She sees the big picture, she’s not just eating dirt, she’s making food for flowers.

Teachers dressed as their favorite storybook character
Storybook Parade. Above we see Hansel of Hansel and Gretel. And bringing up the tail of the parade, we see Scott in red pajamas as Ruby the Red Worm.

View all the Project Updates.


Ruby The Red Worm's Dirty Job. A story about composting and over-coming bullying in favor of the bigger picture. By Scott Stoll.

More ways to order

  1. Order at your favorite local bookstore. I recommend Bookshop.org. They donate 100% of the profits back to your favorite local bookstore.
  2. Order at your local library. Try Hoopla to get the e-book from your library. It’s free.
  3. Order on Amazon. This is a great option if you would like to leave a review and help the book find an audience.
  4. More e-book options.
  5. Add to your Goodreads list.
  6. Even more ways to order.

Author: Scott Stoll
Publisher: TheArgonauts
Format: Paperback and e-book. 102 Pages.
Age group: 5–12+
Publication: Anniversary edition © 05-10-2011
ISBN-13: 978-0982784228
Language: English

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the 490 students and their parents. Thanks to the staff of the Waukesha STEM Academy; in particular, principal Ryan Krohn for his vision, student resource teacher Kate Krzysik for her magical ability to make things happen, and the art teacher Melissa Nagan for her neverending inspirational smile.

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More stories about the making of this book

How I make the aerial view photos look real, including using satellite views and chalking the drawing out square by square.
The ice cream social and book signing celebration for "Ruby the Red Worm" drew over a 1000 people. It was one of the most overwhelming, amazing and fulfilling moments of my life to see the dreams of so many students coming to life.
The new book, Ruby the Red Worm, is finally here! Perhaps no one is more surprised how beautiful it is then me, especially the cover!