Tuesday, September 3, 2013

tara recommends Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf

It is almost time to put summer behind us as the night air turns a little crisper and the smell of fall starts creeping in.  At least that's what the calendar says, but days of scorching temperatures still feel like they will be here forever.  So, if you are looking forward to the blazing heat disappearing a little faster, maybe it is time to crank up your air conditioner and start perusing some autumn books.

Although the cover of Sophie's Squash screams all things fall with red and orange leaves cascading to the ground from a bare tree, the story actually translates well through the seasons.  As far as classification goes, you could also place this with unusual pets and spunky kids.  The story begins with Sophie and her parents taking a trip to the farmer's market to pick up a squash for dinner.  This particular squash never makes it to the dinner table, however, because it is adopted and named Bernice (with a drawn-on face for emphasis) by Sophie.

Bernice becomes part of the family.  She attends story time at the library, visits her other squash friends at the farmer's market and plays outside with Sophie.  Over time, Bernice starts to get a little soft (as squash - and other perishable items - tend to do).  Sophie's parents valiantly try to replace Bernice with a more appropriate toy, but Sophie insists that Bernice is "just the right size to love" and clings to her protectively.  Her parents grudgingly concede - after all, they "did hope she'd love vegetables."

Sophie is energetic and full of imagination and her character is what makes this book special.  When Bernice starts to get splotchy, Sophie insists her friend just has "freckles" and when her mom suggests cooking the vegetable with some marshmallows for supper - she just covers her little squash "ears" and warns "Don't listen, Bernice!"

As Bernice gets older and more blotchy, Sophie seeks advice from a local farmer about how to keep her squash healthy.  She takes his advice of "fresh air . . . good, clean dirt . . . a little love" and plants her squash in the backyard.  She waits through the winter and is pleasantly surprised by spring's revelation.

This story teaches about love, regeneration, planting and friendship.  The watercolor pictures fit very well with the soft, sweet, spunky story and the colorful images will keep your eyes drawn to the page.  This is a must-have for your fall book collection.

If you want to read more about how this story came to be published, or rather how it was almost not published, check out this link.

Sophie's Squash
by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf
published by Schwartz & Wade
August 2013

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