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Kaz Windness: Worm + Caterpillar (SEL, Autistic Creators)

Hi Kaz! Welcome to A NOVEL MIND! Please tell us how the idea for this book came to be.

This idea started out as a doodle. I wondered what might happen if a worm and caterpillar fell in love. In the drawing, the worm expected the caterpillar to never change, and the caterpillar wanted the worm to grow with them. Everyone knows caterpillars change and worms don’t, so I was sure the relationship was doomed from the start…unless these characters could find a way to love each other unconditionally.

Was writing and illustrating a graphic novel different than creating a picture book?

I originally pitched the concept as a picture book, but I was using speech bubbles and panels because these characters wanted direct and simple dialog:

WORM: We are friends, Caterpillar.

CATERPILLAR: Yes, Worm. Best friends.

WORM: Because we are the same.

What was tricky was converting a 32-page book into a 64-page story, but the Simon Spotlight team had fabulous ideas on how to expand the book with more illustrations, as well as front and back matter:

What do you hope readers take away from “Worm and Caterpillar are Friends?”

In a world that feels more divided then ever, I hope kids will embrace this book’s message of

acceptance. Being the same is not what makes us worthy of understanding, friendship, and love. It’s who we are on the inside that counts. I also hope the book helps young readers process the big emotions of supporting a friend through separation and change or going through a big change themselves.

Change is inevitable, but good friends help us spread our wings and fly!


Educators, please click here for a full lesson plan and activity sheets.


Kaz Windness is an author-illustrator who loves to make her readers laugh. When she's not writing or illustrating books, Kaz teaches illustration at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and enjoys making deep-dish pizza. For more about Kaz, visit her at


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