Book: Sophie's Squash Go To School
Author: Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrator: Anne Wilsdorf
Age Range: 3-6
Sophie's Squash is one of my all-time favorite picture books (see my review). So naturally I was thrilled to learn that a sequel would be forthcoming. Sophie's Squash Go To School picks up not long after the end of Sophie's Squash. Readers of the first book will not be surprised to find that when she starts school for the first time, Sophie takes her two best friends, Bonnie and Baxter (the squash children of Bernice). Sophie is not keen on branching out to make any new friends, despite the best efforts of a boy named Steven Green. Eventually, however, the determined Steven is able to break through Sophie's reserve, and she learns that having common interests with someone really can be a basis for friendship.
Sophie's stubborn, loyal personality is, happily, largely unchanged from the first book. Like this:
"Sophie's parents were no help at all.
"Steven sounds adorable," said her mother. "And it's good to have friends."
"Especially human ones," added her father.
Sophie hugged Bonnie and Baxter tightly. "I have all the friends I need."
I just love how determinedly misanthropic she is. When she does start to come around to the other kids, it happens s-l-o-w-l-y. Like this:
"So when Liam showed everyone how do do his loose-tooth dance, Sophie considered joining in.
When Roshni spilled her milk, Sophie almost shared her napkin.
And when Noreen told her favorite banana joke, Sophie laughed--inside her head."
The latter is accompanied by a picture of Sophie glancing over at the other kids, with the first smile the reader has seen yet on her grouchy face. There's no question that illustrator Anne Wilsdorf understands Sophie.
My only minor quibble about this book was that I found Steven's persistence in becoming friends with Sophie a bit implausible. But an image of Steven sitting by himself, with only his stuffed frog, at the base of a tree while the other kids play suggests his need to find a single kindred spirit, rather than being part of the larger crowd. The other kids are clearly wilder and more extroverted. So I'm willing to give Steven a pass.
Sophie's Squash Go To School is a long-ish picture book, but I think that the extra length is needed to give Sophie sufficient room for plausible growth. The nice thing about this book is that it works as a sequel for fans of Sophie's Squash and as a transition to kindergarten / learning to make friends book. I don't think that it quite stands alone - you really have to understand where Bonnie and Baxter came from to fully appreciate Sophie's Squash Go To School. But the two books together would make a great gift for a child starting pre-k or kindergarten. And the sequel is certainly not to be missed by Sophie's many fans. Recommended!
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher
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