The Babymouse series has a new spin-off. Arising out of a sample of pond water in Babymouse #14: Mad Scientist we have Squish: Super Amoeba. Although Squish is an amoeba, and lives in a world filled with paramecia, slime molds, flatworms, and the like, he's also just a regular guy. He goes to school. He likes comic books. He wears a baseball cap. He tries to be brave. He loves Twinkies. And he has two best friends, mooch Pod and relentless optimist Peggy.
As with the Babymouse books, my favorite parts of Squish: Super Amoeba are when the narrator makes smart-aleck remarks (this is probably because I can never resist the smart-aleck rejoinder myself). Like:
- In a drawing of Squish's room, showing his dresser: "What's in there, anyway? It's not like he wears clothes."
- And, in a panel showing Squish in science class we see: "smart at science"; "bad at paying attention"; and "never learns."
I also quite like Peggy ("she's like a ray of sunshine", says the narrator). Her exclamation points and sweetness are completely over the top, but they work, somehow. Pod is a total mooch, and an unrepentant geek - the kind of kid that a nice guy really can end up best friends with. For a bow-tie-wearing amoeba, he's a pretty realistic kid.
In Squish: Super Amoeba, there is a bad guy, because "Amoebas come in all shapes and sizes, just like snowflakes! (Some are pure evil!). There are some fantasy sequences, in which Squish imagines himself to be the comic book hero Super Amoeba. The fantasy sequences are helpfully colored in gray, while the main narrative is black, white, and green - this helps the reader to keep things straight. After all, when one is reading a book about an amoeba who sits in a beanbag chair and reads comic books, it's helpful to know which sequences are meant to be fantasy, and which are the everyday reality ;-)
Squish: Super Amoeba is, as you would expect, pretty much along the same mold (no pun intended) as the Babymouse series. It's a bit more of a buddy story (Babymouse is pretty much the total star of her show), and I think that's a good addition. And, of course, the green coloring, and the presence of molds and worms, makes Squish a bit more boy-friendly than the pink-and-black Babymouse books (though I personally think that either series could work perfectly well for kids of either gender).
In short, I think that Squish is going to be a hit with the early-to-middle elementary school set. He's a likeable character, with entertaining sidekicks, in a setting that's a fun mix of typical and unexpected. I'll be interested to see how the series evolves, in terms of taking advantage of unique traits of amoebae and their microscopic brethren. Recommended, and a must-purchase for libraries.
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).