My colleagues at work often ask me how I manage with my brood of four and I laugh and say “Four? What’re four kids? That’s a small family!” My siblings all have large families (Eight kids! Eleven kids!). In my circles, large families are the norm, so I was really excited to read a book like Squished that explores the idea of big families. And while in big families are a bit of an anomaly these days, over the years I have met many students who tell me they are from a family of five, six, or even seven kids.
By Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter
March 2023, Scholastic Graphix
The heart of this book is just family. There might be a lot of Lees, but many of the trials and tribulations will be things that even smaller families can relate to.
Avery is the oldest girl and the second-oldest in a family of seven children. She is super responsible and extremely helpful with her many younger siblings. From finding lost shoes to babysitting, Avery has a hard time finding a corner of private space. What she wants most is her own room, but instead, her older brother Theo gets his own room and now 2–year-old Max has joined her and Pearl in their room.
Determined to find her own space, Avery starts doing odd jobs so that she can earn money to renovate the basement. But things quickly go awry. She loses the first dog she walks. And then her parents announce that they might be moving.
There is so much to love about this title. Sometimes the siblings squabble and get into each other’s ways, but other times, the siblings get along and work together. The relationship between all the siblings feels genuine, as if Lloyd and Nutter are from big families themselves. That said, anyone with a sibling, whether one or many, would be able to relate to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. The storytelling is fast-paced and has many humorous moments. The artwork is busy and offers the frenetic feel of the hustle and bustle of a large family. The colorization looks vivid and warm, which wraps up the warm tingly feelings all readers will be left with. Another great addition to the middle-grade comics collection.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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