Today I’m delighted to share a peek at a brand-new book that I simply adore. I was hoping to fit it into this year’s fall book list, but my book budget is slim and I still await securing my own copy. (Thanks to Union Ave Books for the look into this one.) This is an endearing story about a little girl who takes to a recently purchased vegetable and cares for it despite its growing fragile composition. Here is Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, pictures by Anne Wilsdorf, 2013.
The story goes that on a recent trip to the market, Sophie helps pick out a squash. Her parents have plans for it for dinner of course, but Sophie names it Bernice.
Despite her parents’ kind patience and opinions, Sophie cares for that squash like a sweet little mother and the two become inseparable. All seems to be going well until Bernice begins to show her true colors — she begins to rot.
Sophie quickly cannot ignore the issue anymore but defends her friend with great stamina. She questions and searches for the best help Bernice can get.
In the end, Sophie cares for Bernice by planting her once again in warm, fresh dirt and then frets the long winter without her friend at her side. Once spring arrives though, Sophie and Bernice are reunited in a surprising way and the fun begins all over again.
This is a story with great heart that is not only adorable but also very moving. I was definitely the type of child who made a friend of just about everything and loved that thing to pieces, so I completely resonate with Sophie. She has such spunk and is hilarious both in word and in the clever illustrations that Wilsdorf created around her. And Bernice is such a perfect squash name that only a child could think of.
The story is lovely and has a good length to it. Each time I encounter it, I find myself pondering different aspects. Friendship is a definite theme. Perhaps I’m overthinking it sometimes and guilty of reading too much into a picture book, but my latest correlation was a subtle look at dealing with loss in a fresh way. I find the burying of Bernice and the changes that occur because of that letting go to be quite beautiful. Something new and wonderful comes from the sort of death or at least change that Bernice must experience.
I’m very thrilled to become acquainted with Sophie and I certainly have been looking at butternut squash a bit differently this fall. Congrats to Pat Zietlow Miller on a stellar first picture book. You can read a lovely interview with her on Cynsations.
Before I sign out, I must say that I really adore the hilarious illustrations by Anne Wilsdorf. Her characters have excellent movement and personality. I’m particularly fond of her expressions not only on Sophie, but also on Bernice and the cat! Secondary characters add so much to the story and she gives them great depth which is no small feat for a squash with a drawn-on face.
I hope you pick up Sophie and her dear squash soon and find something endearing between the pages as well. I’m off to finish the last of the butternut squash soup I recently made. (Please don’t tell Sophie, or Bernice for that matter!)