Top positive review
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Raucous, Enlightening, and of Course Funny
on July 23, 2001
My grandfather once told me that when he was a boy, schools took field trips to the local slaughterhouse. There, the children saw how the food they ate was turned, violently, from a frolicking lamb or cow into tender vittles. Today we've become so separated from our means of survival that most of us can't even fathom the life-and-death struggles that are going on around us every day.
With characteristic candor and capability, Gary Larson takes us on his own version of the slaughterhouse fieldtrip, reminding us of the cutthroat, utilitarian, and utterly unromantic reality of survival in this world. All the while, he helps that bitter pill slide down by coating it with a healthy dose of belly laughs-of the kind that used to make us spit up our coffee when we read The Far Side in the morning paper.
But humans are not the focus of this long-awaited Larson gem (though the main characters are hilariously anthropomorphized-right down to the father "smoking" a pipe filled with dirt). The food being consumed here is not meat but soil, and the young protagonist, an earthworm with adolescent angst, must come to terms with his own role in nature.
With a Zen-like pragmatism and a confidence that comes from his biological background, Larson challenges us to put our species pride aside, and to enjoy this natural world for what it is, not for what we want it to be.
My wife is an elementary school teacher, and I discovered this book on one of the science shelves in her classroom, near the rotting pumpkin and the ant farm. It's a great teaching tool for children, but I would recommend it for students of all ages.