Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job

A story about composting and over-coming bullying in favor of the bigger picture.


As featured in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Ruby the Red Worm's Dirty Job: A book about composting and seeing the big picture.

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.

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

Read about the step-by-step creation of this book.

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More about this book: This children’s chapter book is full of rich, conceptual drawings that compliment 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 principals 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: 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.

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.

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.
Ruby the Red Worm Page 35
Ruby the Red Worm Page 49
Ruby the Red Worm Page 73
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