(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Billy, the protagonist of this story, proves himself equal to the challenge of eating fifteen worms in fifteen days by devising a variety of dishes to disguise their taste. Thomas Rockwell’s graphic descriptions of these dishes is humor of a type that appeals to middle-graders, but it alarmed some parents and adult library users. Parents complained of the book’s violence and vulgarity. For example, a Middletown, New Jersey, parent tried to have the book banned from a local library in 1988. This attempt failed; however, the book was removed from the Livelle Elementary School library in La Paz, Indiana, in 1991, after a library patron complained the book used the word “bastard.”