An irreverent moral tale about treating creatures (even slugs!) with respect.

David Greenberg’s charmingly irreverent Slugs, illustrated by Victoria Chess, is one of my favorite children’s books of all time. I remember reading and rereading it as a kid, poring over the ’70s-style detailed illustrations, the cadence of the rhyming scheme, and most important, the disgusting (and wonderful!) storyline.

Slugs lightheartedly takes you through all of the ways to use the multipurpose slugs, starting innocently enough with a picnic and a walk:

“Swallow a Slug
By its tail or its snout
Feel it slide down
Feel it climb out…

Tie one on a leash
Take it for a walk
Take your Slug to school today
Teach it how to talk.”

Followed by dark turn into torture:

“Perch one on a doorknob
Or on a toilet seat
Sizzle them on lightbulbs
Squash them with your feet.”

If that sounds cruel and you feel for the slugs, don’t worry—the humans get their comeuppance at the end! The book is a moral story about animal and insect abuse, reaching the point effectively through humor.

Though the book is out of print, you can buy it for $.01 on Amazon, find it at your local used book store, or find it at your local library.