April 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Sophie’s Squash

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large tree, little girl at its baseMILLER, Pat Zietlow. Sophie’s Squash. illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Aug. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97896-7; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97897-4. LC 2012006438.
K-Gr 2
–“Good friends are hard to find,” says Sophie to her best buddy, Bernice. This must be so, because Bernice is a farmers’ market squash. The fruit is supposed to be for supper, but all bets are off when Sophie gives it a face and a name. The two friends are inseparable, visiting the library and other squash at the market, practicing somersaults on the hill…and every night Sophie gives Bernice a baby bottle and tucks her into a cradle. (“Well, we did hope she’d love vegetables,” Sophie’s mother observes.) Countless stories exist about girls’ exploits with their dolls or stuffed animals. Few, if any, feature healthy produce. But the tale of Sophie and Bernice is charming and even suspenseful as the title character reluctantly realizes that her squash will not last forever. Miller’s sweet and lively story is perfectly matched by Wilsdorf’s expert ink and watercolor illustrations. 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.–Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY



  1. Susan Khazoyan says:

    SOPHIE’S SQUASH  is a delightful autumn read. However, there is indeed at least one other book that features a friendship between a little girl and a piece of “healthy produce”: THE APPLE DOLL by Elisa Kleven (FSG, 2007.)   Kleven tells the story of Lizzy  who, in autumn, falls in love with a  favorite apple on her tree, draws a face on it and  names it Susanna. Like Sophie, Lizzy  loves and plays with her personified piece of produce and wants Susanna to last forever. Teased about her doll by other kids, and warned by her sister that Susanna will rot and get mushy (the sister also suggests that Lizzy plant Susanna so that she can become a tree), Lizzy comes up with the idea of drying her  apple, and with the help of her mother, creates a new friend from an old one, a friend that will last forever.  Try pairing the two titles in a fun autumn unit: they are certainly kindred spirits.