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"A sort of fleshly pogo stick..." Lowly was Scarry's favorite creation
September 14, 2013 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Fans of the late Richard Scarry may be happy to know that a new book featuring Scarry's favorite character Lowly Worm is due on the shelves this autumn. From the Guardian article: "The book will feature one of Scarry's best-loved and most ubiquitous [and mysterious] characters, the alpine-hatted, singly-shod Lowly Worm, who drives an applecar and was probably the first worm in space."

Lowly on Tumblr, Pinterest, and yeah, he's on Twitter.
posted by jessamyn (45 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank you from a big Scarry fan!
posted by Miko at 10:17 AM on September 14, 2013


There was someone I had a huge crush on in the late 90s solely on the basis that she had a Lowly Worm ankle tattoo.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:25 AM on September 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


(In other words, ZOMGSQUEE, I am a huge fan and this is awesome news.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:29 AM on September 14, 2013


A thing I couldn't quite work in: why the Tyrolean hat? There's more at the Telegraph UK link

Scarry thought there was something intrinsically funny about the Germans, and no Busytown book would be complete without a bottle of pickles or a cat crammed into a pair of lederhosen.
posted by jessamyn at 10:34 AM on September 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Gentlemen, ladies: I know I only have a few seconds of your time, so I'll be brief. I'm just going to leave you with the last line from my movie, and you can fill in the rest. It's night. Sirens wail. A woman screams, while another woman, next to her, cries hysterically. A large worm, wearing nothing but a hat, grabs a detective, our protagonist, by the shoulders and leads him back to a large apple-shaped car. As he does so, he mutters this line:

'Forget it, Jake. It's Busytown.'"
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:43 AM on September 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


Lowly Worm is my son's favorite. This is great news. Thanks, Jessamyn.
posted by ambrosia at 10:47 AM on September 14, 2013


Let us not forget: Goldbug.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:47 AM on September 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Why did I have to click on that link and find out about the awful cartoon that I never knew existed?
posted by orme at 11:10 AM on September 14, 2013


My son and I read the Best Word Book Ever a lot. We have the politically incorrect 1960s version.
posted by Brodiggitty at 11:11 AM on September 14, 2013


He's from Tyrol? What's so mysterious about that?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:13 AM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I have so many emotional memories reading Richard Scarry as a kid with my aunt. She hand knitted me a Lowly Worm sweater that I wore until it fell apart. Lowly Worm is and was my favorite.

I miss the hell out of you MJ.
posted by Sphinx at 11:16 AM on September 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


probably the first worm in space

I think Slimey Worm may be a contender for that honor.
posted by moonmilk at 11:18 AM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thank you for this post! I love Richard Scarry's books. They were a big part of my childhood--my brother and I had several of his books and would pore over them for hours together, or with our parents. When my nephew was just a baby, my partner and I got Cars and Trucks and Things That Go for him! It's a classic. Now we can get the Lowly Worm book for him too.

Scarry really knew what appeals to kids, as the Guardian article says. Lists, cataloguing, finding tiny details.

Sphinx, your lovely memory of your aunt makes me think I should knit my nephew and niece some Lowly Worm sweaters.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:19 AM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lots of new Scarry editions coming soon with art apparently set to be rescanned from his originals. Exciting!
posted by mintcake! at 11:26 AM on September 14, 2013


Lowly Worm knitted toy (from mali_cia's Flickr photostream)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:28 AM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


SHRIEK

Just a few weeks back I apparently (i say apparently as it occurred under the influence of arthritis medications) ordered What Do People Do All Day from amazon and since its arrival I have been cuddling it to my bosom giddily.
posted by elizardbits at 11:43 AM on September 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I adored Richard Scarry's world as a child, and Lowly was always my favourite. I now have the privilege of sharing that with my children. My nearly two-year old boy spends at least an hour a day pouring over the "Trucks, Cars, and Things That Move" book with my wife and I every night. It's a magical world. The article is right; the books are endlessly optimistic.
posted by Amity at 11:46 AM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was someone I had a huge crush on in the late 90s solely on the basis that she had a Lowly Worm ankle tattoo.

Goddammit I wish I had thought of that during my impressionable tattoo-getting years
posted by bonaldi at 11:57 AM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


hurdy gurdy girl: "When my nephew was just a baby, my partner and I got Cars and Trucks and Things That Go for him!

Sphinx, your lovely memory of your aunt makes me think I should knit my nephew and niece some Lowly Worm sweaters.
"

That sweater wasn't the best sweater, but I cried when I outgrew it.

When I was a kid, and less so as an adult, I had/have very acute hearing. Loud sounds make me flinch and overreact. In those days, there were tons of very loud cars and trucks and I really didn't understand why they were so loud.

Then I spent a summer afternoon with Mary Jane and we read Cars and Trucks and Things That Go and I was so much less afraid about cars and trucks after that I'm sitting here crying on my couch on a Saturday afternoon trying to quantify it. Man, Lowly Worm was our jam.
posted by Sphinx at 12:19 PM on September 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Let us not forget: Goldbug.

Found him! He was right here!
posted by Spatch at 12:33 PM on September 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Lowly Worm knitted toy (from mali_cia's Flickr photostream)

hurdy gurdy girl, your link just reminded me of the Lowly doll that my mom made for me when I was 4 years old. The book the doll pattern came from is long out of print, but it's been rediscovered by craft bloggers and posted online. A la recherche de vers perdu...
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:26 PM on September 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've just recalled that as a middle schooler I was obsessed with finding gold-domed buildings when my family was driving through state capitals. I can only assume that this was a consequence of Goldbug being one of my favorite books as a little kid.
posted by XMLicious at 1:41 PM on September 14, 2013


Always loved him, but I had no idea that was his name. In the German editions, he's called Egon.
posted by muckster at 2:27 PM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


With a name like Lowly Worm, it would have been easy to give him a gritty-80s makeover.

Or to feature as a minor character in The Fountainhead.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 2:32 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


That Bananas Gorilla. He sure likes bananas. Hey, Bananas! You forgot to pay for those! Here comes Officer Dog...
posted by not_on_display at 3:06 PM on September 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now there are two. There are two _______.: "There was someone I had a huge crush on in the late 90s solely on the basis that she had a Lowly Worm ankle tattoo."

I've got a crush on her now myself and I've never even met her.
posted by chavenet at 3:31 PM on September 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Since I had my daughter a year ago, I often find myself thinking about the books from my own childhood. I had to go to the library recently (had to is probably the wrong way to word this, I love library-ing and would have gone anyway) to look through all the childrens books when my admittedly quite poor Richard Scarry descriptions (There were lots of animals! They were doing things!) didn't remind my boyfriend of anything. It took a while but I found them and they were even better than I remembered. Thank you Mr Scarry,
posted by Wantok at 3:41 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, this so so cute! I had Best Word Book Ever and Best Rainy Day Book Ever.

I always wondered who Lowly Worm went home to when the day was done, since he didn't seen to have anyone with him. I felt bad for him. But then again, he was always smiling, so perhaps he valued his independence!
posted by droplet at 3:54 PM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can tell this thread is authentic Richard Scarry material because I immediately looked for -- and found -- the Goldbug.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:17 PM on September 14, 2013


This makes me happy of myself! I was a huge Scarry fan as a child. One of my favorite things to do as a little kid pre-literacy was to not so much have the books read to me but for me to tell my parents (or whoever was "reading" the books to me) ALL the stories about ALL the charcaters on each page (Bless the patient hearts of all my minders back then). The Playskool Puzzletown sets (for years the only licsenced toy items based on Scarry's works) were my own personal canvas to create my own stories of Lowly Worm & friends in Busytown. Wjen I was 4 I asked my father to write a letter to Scarry for me telling him how much I loved his stories and how Lowly was my favorite and how I made up my own stories. My folks even sent it off to his publisher and everything.

Imagine their suprprise several months later when a letter came for ME from Switzerland! Turns out his American publisher would forward his fanmail to him. He responded to me with a very nice letter telling me to never stop telling new stories and included a small hand drawn picture of Lowly himself, inscribed to ME! (He also said to make sure that I had thanked my father for writing the letter that iI had dictated). Sadly, the letter & Lowly picture would not survive the predations of my younger sister who managed to pull our Baby Books off the shelf while crawling about the living room (she was a regular Houdini when she was 2; no lock, cabinet or shelf could thwart her) and start tearing all the pages up, including the one with the my letter and drawing from Richard Scarry. Apparently, from all accounts, I took it pretty well at the time (I have no memory of the event myself and wasn't reminded of until I was in my early teens).

To this day, the first book I give a friend or familiy member's child is ALWAYS Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I'll see how this one new one works out, maybe I'll switch things up a bit.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:29 PM on September 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


I always wanted a Lowly Worm t-shirt.
posted by slkinsey at 6:36 PM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lowly was definitely my favorite growing up (though Schtoompah and CousCous were tying for a close second) -- so I was thrilled when my 4-year-old's latest fun thing to do was to cram both his feet into one of his father's shoes and hop around saying "I'm Lowly!!!"
posted by Mchelly at 6:48 PM on September 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm curious to see this - as the dad of a Huckle-obsessed 2 year old, I've been rereading Scarry for the first time in decades, and noticing lots of details that I'd overlooked as a kid (e.g. that parts of Busytown slowly become urban prairie). Huck Scarry's books so far are closer in feel to the heavily-detailed, anarchic style of his father's most popular stories, and I enjoy reading them more than Richard Scarry's books from the 80s + 90s. Early-Richard Scarry filtered through Huck could be gold, if that's when these drawings date from ...
posted by ryanshepard at 7:01 PM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why did I have to click on that link and find out about the awful cartoon that I never knew existed?

That was kind of what I thought after reading the first Scarry book to one of my kids. Quickly followed by "I hope they don't start liking it!" But they did like it, and it grew on me after a while. Once you get used to the weird unpretentiousness of the drawings, the books have more character than most mass-market childrens' books. Plus we always thought we'd let our kids pick their own reading material, and in retrospect they made interesting choices.
posted by sneebler at 7:14 PM on September 14, 2013




Oh, MAN. There was this picture of Lowly Worm eating a cherry pie in The Great Big Mystery Book (cherry by cherry, down his neck/body) that my best friend in high school and I were obsessed with.
posted by queensissy at 10:52 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My boyfriend is saying, "Yeah, Lowly Worm was cool. Not as good as Frumble and his pickle car, but cool."
posted by queensissy at 11:00 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was a child I had a nightmare once. I'd woken up in the middle of the night. It was dark save for a strong beam of midnight shining through the window, illuminating the storybook-perfect form of Lowly Worm just sitting there at the foot of my bed staring at me with his wide cartoon eyes and uncomprehending grin. "Hey there!" he said cheerfully as my 7-year-old brain strained to grasp the utter wrongness of a 2-dimensional cartoon character existing and moving and speaking as I sat transfixed, wanting to scream but unable to move or utter a sound. It was horrifying and abject. I woke up in a cold sweat. Lowly Worm has kind of freaked me out ever since.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:43 AM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, as a college student, SWIM experienced remarkably similar, equally terrible visions while in thrall to salvia divinorum.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:50 AM on September 15, 2013


I just gave all '60-'70s era Richard Scarry books to my sibling's child.
Even at my age they were hard to give away.
posted by Mezentian at 6:56 AM on September 15, 2013


Just a few weeks back I apparently (i say apparently as it occurred under the influence of arthritis medications) ordered What Do People Do All Day from amazon and since its arrival I have been cuddling it to my bosom giddily.

I wish they sold the unabridged version....mine, from when I was a kid, has completely fallen apart.
posted by Lucinda at 8:01 AM on September 15, 2013


Lowly was definitely my favourite. We just got The Biggest Word Book Ever in at our bookshop, and it really is pretty massive. It's got a nice big picture of Lowly on the cover, and I found myself having to explain him to a teenager who's a regular customer, which wasn't easy. We had The Please and Thank You Book, when I was a kid, and Lowly gets up to some astonishing things in the first story - brushing his teeth, having a bath, eating cereal. He seems to be living with the Cat family there, so not a complete orphan.
posted by featherboa at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2013


I don't why, but Lowly Worm struck me as having greater style & panache than his co-stars. Rock on, Lowly Worm, rock on.
posted by angrycat at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2013


Thank you for reminding me of Pig Will and Pig Won't. Our copy of Scarry's Book of Manners wore out long before the lessons did.
posted by tizzie at 11:40 AM on September 17, 2013


I dreamed about lowly worm and his apple car drag racing against Frumble and his pickle car and was disappointed to wake up to a general lack of foodstuff automobiles.
posted by elizardbits at 9:05 AM on September 18, 2013


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