Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hello. My Name is Bernice. I’m a Squash.

Actually, this book is not about a talking squash. But it comes close.

SOPHIE’S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf (illustrator), Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013

I can relate to characters who are only children. I was one once. Only children or not, if we spend each day without any short people looking us in the eye while we make up songs and plays, we make up our friends, too. I had an invisible friend. Her name was Lucy.

My parents were understanding.  They accepted Lucy as if she were theirs, too. Mom would set a place at the table for Lucy. Dad would prompt her, gently, “Lucy, put your hand in your lap. Elbows off the table.”  Or, “See what a nice job Joan is doing cutting her cooked carrots? Try to be more like her.” Dad knew how to work with what he had.

Bernice has big round eyes and she is yellow, but not sick. That’s just the way she is. She’s a squash, after all. Oh, but how she is loved by Sophie! Sophie’s parents are not quite as understanding as mine were. But then, Lucy wasn’t going to get mushy and smell bad. Sophie’s mother tries to nip this problem in the bud, squash blossom, if you will. She suggests baking Bernice with marshmallows. Ooh! You can probably guess Sophie’s reaction to that!

Time goes by. Bernice softens. Sophie’s parents call Sophie names like “Sugar Beet and Sweet Pea.” This does not soften Sophie’s will.

The story is based on the author’s young daughter, Sonia, who once loved a squash, too. I don’t know how Sonia’s mother handled this, but Sophie’s mother manages just fine and all ends well. Visit the real life mom/author here.
Sophie is a good squash mom. Illustrator Wilsdorf captures the many tender expressions of a doting mother and the defensive posture of a mother who is convinced her child is the best and brightest of them all.

Plant a spring garden with your young listeners. Plant fruits, vegetables, or ideas. Be careful, though.  What will you do if they befriend the breakfast cantaloupe? 


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