Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

Rating: 4.5

Sophie is a girl who loves her vegetables.  I mean, she really loves her vegetables, especially a baby-shaped butternut squash that (who?) she finds at the farmer's market, draws a smile on, and plays with.

Her mother is, understandably, taken aback.  To test the relationship between Sophie and Sophie's squash, she looked at Sophie, then at the squash, and tied her apron on (and, in the illustration, you can see a cookbook open to a page with a squash recipe), preparing to make dinner.  Sophie understood what was going on and told her mother, "I call her Bernice." It was clear: the relationship was firm.

"I'll call for a pizza," said her mother.

"I call her Bernice."
"I'll call for pizza."
The kids and I were hooked at this point, giggling along, wondering how a girl and a squash get along these days.  We quickly found out: quite well, actually.  Sophie and Bernice went to storytime together, visited other squashes at the farmer's market, raced each other down hills.  Sophie wouldn't be talked into getting "real" toys; she was happy with Bernice.

Eventually, of course, Bernice starts to age.  I quietly empathized with her as age spots grew and mushy parts appeared.  Sophie's mother quietly counsels that Bernice is going to have to...go.

And so, Sophie buries Bernice in a sad-but-funny sort of ceremony.  (Hmm.  Does this mean I'm a little warped because I think that a burial of any sort is a little funny?  Perhaps, but just take this as a glimpse into my sense of humor...)  Sophie retreats to her house for the winter, looking out at the spot under which Bernice sleeps sadly as she is relegated to dolls and blocks and coloring books as playthings.

"What's that spotty thing?"
"Her name is Bernice.
She's a squash with FRECKLES."
In the Spring, she notices a little bolt of green shooting up from where Bernice lies.  Sophie watches in amazement as this shoot grows to be a plant, and then oh-my-gosh as this plant has two little squashes.

"You look just like your mom!" Sophie declares.  Soon enough, they are big enough to pick, bundle, and love.

This is a clever, clever book by a talented new author with sweet, sweet illustrations by Anne Wilsdorf--it just makes me smile.  And the fact that the story was inspired by a true story (read how Miller's daughter did pick a squash at a farmer's market, take it home with her, and treat it as a baby rather than dinner here...) makes it all the sweeter.  Sophie's Squash recently won the peer-selected Golden Kite Award...  I mean, can you imagine of ALL the children's books that get published in a year, all the authors get together and select YOUR book as the best?  That's big.  And this book is deserving--see for yourself!

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