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Review: Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

Sophie’s Squash
By Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

Schwartz & Wade (Random House)

ISBN: 9780307978967
Grades PreK-1
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Children are masters of personification. Rock, stick, spoon – they can turn just about anything into a sentient being. In terms of commitment to pretending, Daniel Day Lewis has got nothing on kids. Sophie’s Squash is a refreshing take on the idea of mentally animating an inanimate object. A little bit quirky, a little bit timeless, a little bit about broader themes like the changing of the seasons, this is one of my favorite picture books of the fall.

One bright fall day, Sophie chose a squash at the farmer’s market.

The bond is instant. Sophie uses a marker to give her squash face and takes to calling her Bernice. When dinner arrives, Bernice will not be on the table. But as squash do, Bernice begins to get a little soggy over time. On the advice of the farmer Sophie returns the squash to the soil, discovering something amazing come spring.

The watercolor and ink illustrations are loose and friendly – a wise choice. They could have played up the quirky element in the story with some off-beat artwork, but I think this more comforting route was the way to go.

It’s the sort of story I can see just about any kid relating to, either because they are still like Sophie or because they can look back with a knowing smile. A nice addition to your fall read aloud collection.

Review copy from the publisher.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.