August 12, 2013

A story with food for thought

By Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
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Girl meets squash. Girl decides to love squash like a favorite doll and take squash everywhere.

Although the premise may not sound action-packed, in the hands of first-time author Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrator Anne Wilsdorf, this story of a big, lumpy vegetable becomes a delightfully fun, touching tale.

After the heroine, Sophie, chooses the squash at a farmers' market, Miller writes, "Her parents planned to serve it for supper, but Sophie had other ideas." Sophie soon decides to call her new "friend" Bernice, prompting her bemused mother to philosophize, "Well, we did hope she'd love vegetables."

After a honeymoon period of veggie love, a standoff ensues between Sophie and her parents. Sophie's mom explains (much to Sophie's horror): "Bernice is a squash, not a friend. If we don't eat her soon, she'll get mushy and gross. Let's bake her with marshmallows. Won't that taste yummy?"

Kids and adults alike will enjoy watching the desperate, thoughtful yet ultimately unsuccessful attempts by Sophie’s parents to remedy this culinary clash. Finally, after other children begin to make fun of the deteriorating squash, Sophie figures out the perfect solution as she attempts to cure Bernice of her splotches and "freckles."

Sophie's Squash is a story with a big heart and authentic emotions, also infused with gentle, droll humor with every turn of the page. Miller's words are spot on, while Wilsdorf's lively watercolor-and-ink illustrations bring the story to life with every character's multitude of expressions. This artistic team fully mines the humor of the situation. What's more, to their credit, they take Sophie's dilemma seriously, treating her squash devotion with the humorous respect it deserves.

Sophie's Squash is a charmer, but be forewarned: Your trips to the farmers' market may never be quite the same.

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Sophie’s Squash

Sophie’s Squash

By Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
Schwartz & Wade
ISBN 9780307978967

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