Squish: Super Amoeba

7 06 2012

Cartoons left a void in my life when Bill Waterson retired Calvin and Hobbes. Nothing quite worked for me after that.

Then I found Amelia Rules, really, Amelia Rules found me, because the author, Jimmy Gownley, visited our school a few years ago. In the weeks leading up to his visit, I read every single Amelia book he’d written. It turned out that Calvin was gone, but I’m pretty sure that Amelia is his daughter.

Recently, I found Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm. I’m fairly certain that Babymouse is Calvin’s rodent niece or something. She’s fantastic.

Now I’ve got my hands on Squish. This book is ridiculous. Ridiculous is good.

The main story is great. Squish is a fantastic character, with real middle school problems – except that he’s a single celled organism. He’s dealing with unfair principals, goofy friends, strict teachers, and, of course, the school bully.

That’s all well and good, but what makes Squish brilliant is the subtle science lessons kids will get out of reading Squish – I really wish I could convince the science teachers at my school to do a novel study. However, the brilliantest parts (yes, I’m an English teacher, so I’m licensed to make up words like brilliantest) are the little asides – big green arrows that point out funny little observations (my favorite being the arrow pointing at Squish’s bedroom dresser, asking “what’s in there anyway? It’s not like he wears clothes.” – see that’s funny, because he’s an amoeba with a dresser. It’ doubly funny, because it’s not weird that he has a hat, his dad wears a tie, or that he lives in a house, but it’s weird that he has a dresser – that’s brillianterester).

Visually, the book is awesome. It resembles Babymouse stylistically, black and white, bold ink drawings with bright green highlights (Babymouse has pink). The characters are single celled organisms, yet the art gives them emotion and personality. If I

Really, one of the best comics/graphic novels in a long, long time.

Squish is my 19th book this summer.  I’m on a quest to finish 90 books in the 90 days of summer break.

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