The Worms of Kukumlima is yet another goofy children's novel by Daniel Pinkwater. Actually, it's not that goofy, considering Pinkwater's other novels...
The Worms is the story of Ronald Donald Almondotter, a young teenager who goes to work for for his grandfather for the summer. His grandfather is the inventor and manufacturer of those little metal clips that hold the ends of salami casings together, and Ronald runs odd jobs around the office and keeps the salami clip machine loaded with fresh spools of wire. It's an okay job. Then, his grandfather's friend Sir Charles, who happens to be a world-famous explorer, shows up. It seems that long ago Ronald's grandfather had saved his life, and in return Sir Charles has saved his life's greatest adventure for him. Yes, better than hunting for sea monsters in Lake Ontario, better than discovering the Abominable Snowman, better even than discovering the three deepest caverns on earth... The Worms of Kukumlima!
If they exist. True, the long held belief of many leading scientists, that earthworms were actually highly intelligent alien lifeforms, has recently been discredited. But there are stories of this one species of worm, from deepest Africa, that may actually be all that worms were once hoped to be. If only it's true! If only they can figure out where 'Kukulima' is! If only they don't die on the journey! Imagine the fame, the glory, the once-in-a-lifetime experience of discovering intelligent worms! How can they resist?
Aside from the possibly-alien worms and the fact that Sir Charles is ditzy to the point of being an alien lifeform himself, this is a reasonably sane book. Silly, but sane. As always, the saving grace of Pinkwater's books is the main character, who is a perfectly normal boy, who makes rather naive and acute observations of the weirdness around him.
This is a good book, but perhaps not the best introduction to Pinkwater's works. The over-the-top-ending is a bit of a turn-off, and some of the oblique references he makes to his other books will be lost on the novice Pinkwater fan. Better to start with Borgel or the Snarkout Boys books. The Worms has been out of print for years, but it was recently republished in the rather large tome 4 Fantastic Novels by Daniel Pinkwater. This book also includes Borgel, Yobgorgle, The Worms of Kukumlima, and The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror.