IT was inspired by the fight to maintain a public right of way at the Old Head of Kinsale, but author Kevin Doyle reckons his children’s book The Worms that Saved the World could have well an appeal beyond West Cork.
Kevin has teamed up with illustrator Spark Deeley and together they have produced a beautiful book for three to seven year-olds where fiction does not mirror the reality of the Old Head of Kinsale case.
In Kevin’s version of events, the humble worm saves the day and also a spectacular headland for everyone to enjoy.
‘I had young children at the time, Réidín, who was four, and Saoirse, who was two, and we used to take them down to the Old Head of Kinsale. At the time there were picnics as part of the campaign to try and maintain public access to the lighthouse, when developers began building a golf course there,’ he recalled.
‘Those picnics were very family-friendly events and were very positive and I think it was a little bit of that whole experience that influenced me to think about writing a book for children. I was thinking a lot more about kids’ books at the time because I had young kids,’ he said.
Saoirse had just got a wormery and she was fascinated by them. ‘In fact, we were all amazed by what the worms would do with the waste we put in, and I just hit on the idea of building the story around the worms.’
Kevin explained that in the book, a group of earthworms living on an imaginary headland, begin to suffer when a golf course takes up residence around their home. However, their attempts to tell the new owners about their concerns are dismissed.
In response, the earthworms organise and join with the other birds and animals and they eventually reclaim the headland for everyone. It proves to be a victory, not just for the earthworms, but also for both locals and visitors alike.
It took Kevin several years to find an illustrator who shared his sense of how he wanted the story to look but when he met Spark Deeley and saw what she had done with her own book, Into the Serpent’s Jaws, they clicked, and together began developing The Worms that Saved the World.
‘We only got a finished draft of it together two years ago, by which time Réidín and Saoirse were too old for it, so we got some of our friends with younger children to test it for us. People came back with good suggestions on the wording so we went back and redrafted it again.
‘We’re very happy with the way it worked out, and while it’s obviously inspired by events at the Old Head, I think it could have an international appeal because it ties into the ecological impact that golf courses are having on habitats all over the world.
‘It is also about the need to stand up for your rights while celebrating community and solidarity and children will love these rebellious worms. Let’s face it, earthworms get a lot of bad press but these worms have something to tell us about the need to share the planet and respect the environment.’