My latest kids’ book review has turned out to be very exciting indeed. The book I have chosen is ‘Sophie’s Squash’ by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf – and not only did I manage to interview Pat, she also kindly agreed to giveaway a signed first edition copy to one of our lucky readers! ‘Sophie’s Squash’ is an endearing story, about love, friendship and just a little bit about growing up. The story centres around a little girl called Sophie who chooses a squash on a trip to the farmers’ market with her parents. When she get’s home, instead of letting her mom cook it, she adopts it. She even gives it a name: Bernice. From that moment, a wonderful friendship is born and Sophie and Bernice are inseparable. This certainly clicked with me, having one daughter with an imaginary friend and another who crafts characters out of various bits of odds and ends and then has to take them out shopping with us and ride them in the trolley. It certainly was a story that they would love. As the story continues and winter begins to near, Sophie, who failed to heed her parents’ gentle warnings that Bernice will begin to rot, start’s to notice that changes are taking place. Nature is running its course. This is the touching and growing up part of the story. What can a little girl to do when the squash she loves is in trouble? ‘Sophie’s Squash’ is a delightful story, well told and perfect for reading to the kids – especially now as winter approaches. It’s beautifully illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf who manages to create a perfect setting and atmosphere for the tale as well as creating some very funny pictures to compliment the text and bring the characters to life.
What the critics have said about ‘Sophie’s Squash’
Booklist, August 1, 2013: “In a perfect blend of story and art, the humorous watercolor-and-ink illustrations are bursting with color and energy on every page… This is a paean to love and friendship, which can come in all species, shapes, and sizes.” School Library Journal, July 2013: “With lessons on life, love, and vegetable gardening, this tale will be cherished by children, and their parents will be happy to read it to them often.” Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2013: “Sensitive but funny… Miller’s easygoing storytelling taps into the familiar scenario of children making fierce attachments to favorite objects.” Buy Sophie’s Squash from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
Here’s what Pat Zietlow Miller had to say when I interviewed her:
What inspired you to write SOPHIE’S SQUASH? My daughter, Sonia, fell in love with a squash when she was small. It was so sweet. She wasn’t as dedicated as Sophie is in my story, but she was definitely the inspiration for the book. I took what happened to her and asked, “What if she hadn’t wanted to give the squash up?” “What if she kept it so long it began to rot?” Tell us a little bit about Bernice, the squash. Bernice is the perfect friend. She loves unconditionally, listens to secrets but doesn’t tell them, and is always up for whatever Sophie wants to do. Plus, as Sophie says, she’s “just the right size to love.” Really, who wouldn’t want a friend like Bernice? Is there a message in the book that you want children to understand? I didn’t write the book with a message in mind, but as the book evolved, I think the message became: “Friends come in all shapes and sizes.” And that’s what I write in every book I sign. You never can tell who will matter in your life – especially at first glance. The illustrations are fantastic, what attracted you to the work of Anne Wilsdorf? I just adore the illustrations. I hold Anne Wilsdorf in a special kind of awe. Interestingly enough, we’ve never met and I had nothing to do with her being chosen to illustrate the book. The folks at Schwartz & Wade matched us together, and I don’t think they could have done a better job. Anne made Sophie and Bernice and their family come to life in the most wonderful way. I understand you have several other books in the pipeline, what are they about? I have three books that are in the process of being published.
- SHARING THE BREAD is a celebration of food and family and togetherness as seen during one down-home Thanksgiving dinner.
- WHEREVER YOU GO is a poem about all the different paths you can take in life.
- THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE is the story of a little girl in 1960s Clarksville, Tennessee, who dreams of being the fastest girl in the world – just like her hero, sprinter Wilma Rudolph, who made history as the first woman from the United States to win three gold medals at one Olympics.
They’re all quite different from each other, but that’s one of the things I like best about being a writer. There are so many different stories to write and so many ways to write them. You also review books for children on your own website, ‘Read, Write, Repeat’. What’s your favourite book you have reviewed? Oh, that’s a hard one. I am a huge reader and book lover, so I have lots of favorites. Two I especially remember enjoying are STAND STRAIGHT, ELLA KATE by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise and IMOGENE’S LAST STAND by Candace Fleming and Nancy Carpenter. The first is the true story of Ella Kate Ewing, a young woman who grew to be 8 feet tall. It tells how she embraced her differences to enjoy life. The endpapers feature the actual size of her shoe and her gloves. The second is a fictional account of a young girl who saves her town’s historical society from destruction. It features quotes from lots of famous people artfully woven into the story. Both are wonderful, wonderful picture books.