By Maureen Tai, 24 November 2017
“I’m glad we met,” Sophie whispered. “Good friends are hard to find.”
Even with the umpteenth reading, it is hard not to think of Sophie’s Squash as being, quite possibly, the most perfect picture book ever written.
The cheerful, loveable little Sophie with sticking-up pig-tails and round, innocent eyes, falls into a deep friendship with a squash that her parents buy at the farmers’ market. By page 4, the pear-shaped gourd has a face and a name. It is also by then that even the least attentive reader will sense that the newly-christened Bernice may have escaped the supper pot into which she was destined, but nevertheless, her fate is sealed. Vegetables that are no longer connected to life-giving earth, will simply soften, speckle and rot. There is a mild sense of dread as Sophie’s parents suggest alternative endings for Bernice, and attempt to entice Sophie with other, more durable playmates.
But Sophie will not be swayed or distracted. She is well and truly in love with her squash, mottled or otherwise. Sophie and Bernice are inseparable.
As any good, caring friend would do, Sophie ultimately finds a solution to Bernice’s predicament, and to her own looming tragedy which miraculously, she remains cheerfully oblivious to right up to the last page. That is the true genius of this charming tale. At the end, we are relieved not only because Bernice is saved but because Sophie is too. Good friends never want the other to get hurt, do they?
For ages 5 and up.