Squish #1: Super AmoebaSquish is your regular kid who loves to read comic books, eat twinkies and hang with his friends. Well, a regular kid, except that he's an amoeba. A what? Yes, he's an amoeba, a single celled organism who hangs out in your local pond. His best friend are Pod, who's always trying to trade his lunch with Squish, and Peggy, who's always perky and happy. At school, they navigate the cafeteria, gobble up tacos, avoid the bullies, and suffer through detention. I had particular fun with Peggy the parameceum who wants to be everyone's friend. She even wants to be friends with Lynwood, the local school bully, which turns out to be a dangerous enterprise (he has a bad habit of eating parameceum).
by Jennifer Holm
illustrated by Matthew Holm
NY: Random House, 2011
ages 8 - 11
available on Amazon and at your local library
Kids have fun recognizing all their daily lives transformed into the new world of these little creatures. They can definitely relate to the dilemma that Squish faces: should he save Peggy from being eaten by Lynwood, even if it means letting Lynwood copy from his science test? How can he stand up to the school bully and do the right thing? How will everything turn out? As our kids know, life is not easy and thing sometimes get messy out there.
Early reviews have been mixed. Our 4th and 5th grade students are giving it a thumbs up, liking the mix of humor. Our 2nd graders found it a bit complicated to understand, particularly because of the scientific terms like parameceum and amoeba. Kirkus gives Squish a star rating, and says, "The episode zips along to a climactic ugly (but just) surprise for Lynwood, then closes with an easily doable prank/science project involving a moistened slice of bread. If ever a new series deserved to go viral, this one does." However, Publishers Weekly disagrees, stating that the characters are flat and two-dimensional.
I particularly like the way that Abby the Librarian sums it up in her review:
"Take the stuff you love about Babymouse: humor, a relateable protagonist dealing with realistic situations, and wild flights of imaginative fancy. Color 'em green (not pink!) and add a smattering of facts about microscopic life and you have Squish."Listen to sister and brother team, Jenni and Matt Holm, talk about creating Squish and Babymouse in this video.
If your child has fun with graphic novels, this will be a fun summer treat. Hook them on this, and then explore many more graphic novel series like Babymouse, Lunch Lady, Knights of the Lunch Table, Fashion Kitty, and Bone.
Jennifer Holm, the author of Squish, Babymouse, Turtle in Paradise and The Trouble with May Amelia, came to our school last month for an outstanding author visit. Our students were really interested in her presentation and have been voraciously reading Babymouse and her historical fiction ever since. She connected with students, helped them see how her own life experiences help her write her stories, and made them excited to read. If you are local to the Bay Area, I'd highly recommend having her visit your school.
The review copy was kindly sent by Random House. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.
Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.