Sophie's Squash

written by Pate Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf

Ages: 0-7 years (approximately grades preschool – 1)

Have you ever seen a pumpkin or tomato you thought was so cute you wanted to make it your pet? Well, I know it’s not just me, because in this heart-warming story, a little girl named Sophie becomes inexplicably attached to a squash her mother intends to be a part of that evening’s meal. Bernice, the beloved squash, escapes the dinner plate and goes on to share Sophie’s everyday life attending storytimes, practicing summersaults, and napping. Sophie’s parents are very understanding and supportive of her friendship with Bernice, although they subtly hint that Bernice might make a better treat baked with marshmallows than a friend. Eventually, even the storytime librarian suggests that Bernice stay home from the next storytime, as she is beginning to look a little sickly. After asking a farmer at the market what it takes to keep a squash healthy, Sophie decides to make Bernice a warm bed outside in the soil and, after a long winter spent with a fill-in fish gifted to her from her parents, Sophie discovers that Bernice isn’t quite the same as she was before her long nap… but that now she has even more friends to love!

This sweet story will ring true with children (and their parents) who have made friends with an object that at first sight doesn’t seem so kid-friendly. Sophie’s character is realistic in her dealings with Bernice (tucking her in and wishing her, “Sweet dreams”), although perhaps Sophie’s parents have a tad more patience with her than readers would! The themes of time passing, losing a friend (or loved object) in place of something just as good (Ace the fish!) or even better (Bonnie and Baxter Squash!) are approached gently, not overbearingly, and in a way that would make sense to young ones. This touching tale is best suited for ages 0-7, or roughly grades preschool through first.

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