The Make-A-Book Project and author-in-residence program school photographs. Pictured here are all four of the aerial-view school photos. Kids standing in the shape of a bicycle, worm, butterfly and cupcake.
Ruby the Red Worms Dirty Job book cover title screen
Ruby the Red Worms Dirty Job. Illustrated by elementary students.

Cover Design Challenges

The new book, Ruby the Red Worm, is finally here! Perhaps no one is more surprised how beautiful it is than me, especially the cover! I puzzled for months about what to do, including a meeting with the art teacher discussing if her best students would want to illustrate and/or color the cover, and whether to have the school vote on a winner. Those ideas were good; however, they weren’t feasible. So after one-too-many sleepless nights, I arose in the wee hours and in one inspired flurry, drew this picture. It’s quite different than anything else I’ve done, and so I like to think I’ve learned to listen to my muses. I also splurged several hundred dollars that I don’t have on a drawing tablet for my computer, which I used to color my pen and ink drawing.

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 introduction to composting with some life lessons. It is not a how to book. Also, though good for any age, the reading level is between a children’s picture book and a children’s chapter book.

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More stories about the making of this book

Students examine red worms and compost bin

Worms eat my garbage

Your adventure, should you choose to accept it, is to build your own compost bin at home. This is a great way to recycle your scraps and reduce your eco-footprint.

Teachers dressed as their favorite storybook character

Storybook Parade

During my visit, which was Reading Week, one of the teachers organized a Storybook Parade, where all the teachers dressed as their favorite storybook character and paraded through the hallways.

Book signing celebration

School book signing

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.

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