Squish – it's Babymouse for young boys, with added "bogey green"
After reviewing Babymouse: Our Hero and finding it a great graphic novel for younger readers, Matthew was kind enough to send over a box of Babymouse for our school library. And in that wonderful donation was a couple of copies of the first book in their new series; Squish.
My only complaint with the first Babymouse story I read was that the pink colouring would prove a little too much for some of the boys in our school (although quite brilliantly the colour scheme shifts in Babymouse: Monster Mash to a perfect pumpkin orange – just right for a halloween themed storyline).
It’s like they were reading my mind. Squish is everything that Babymouse is; warm, familiar, full of characters children will latch onto, in situations they’ll find recognisable, straightforward yet never simplistic, full of comedy and with a message they’ll appreciate and easily understand.
But most importantly for those boys, it’s all in black, white and a perfect “bogey green” as one little Year 2 boy told me!.
Just like Babymouse, there’s a handy opening summary for us all:
We’re right at the end of the school year here, so not really a lot of chance to get too much reader feedback on Squish or the extra volumes of Babymouse yet, but I just know they’re going to be so popular. Hopefully, at some point in autumn, I’ll be able to get a reading and reviewing group together and see what they say. In the meantime, you’ll have to put up with my take on it.
If anything, it’s funnier than Babymouse, and every page seems to have a gag. It’s fast paced, chunky line artwork and simple language disguises quite a complex scenario – after all, the Holms are introducing us to a world of microscopic life here, and skillfully mix the reality:
…..and the not so scientifically accurate (but very silly and funny):
And all though the book, the mix works seamlessly. There’s actually quite a bit of science in here; we’re introduced to Amoebas (Squish and his friend Pod, a clean freak genius who worries that his pseudopods are dirty), Paramecium (Squish’s friend Peggy), Slime Molds (Peggy’s new pet), Planaria (their flatworm principal – Planaria really are cross eyed – see, educational for everyone!), Lynwood (the bully) and much, much more.
Like I said, Squish is simple and follows some of the themes of friendship and childish conflict already covered in the various Babymouse volumes. But that’s just the point. It doesn’t need to innovate in it’s storyline, in fact it’s readers don’t want it to. They love the familiar, the repetition of ideas, the simplicity.
If you’ve got a winning formula, especially a winning formula for young children, there’s really no requirement to alter it that much. They’ll delight in the familiar, embrace the repetition. Remember when you read to your child as a toddler at bedtime – how they wanted, nay demanded the same book night after night after night, until both of you knew it by heart, and only one of you got tired of it.
More than anything else, Squish is a delightfully surreal experience that lit up a dreary Yorkshire morning and made even this grumpy old man smile and laugh. And if it does that for me, imagine how a child will adore it. The Holm’s have hit on another winning formula. Babymouse does everything perfectly in a pink tinted world, Squish does exactly the same, just with that delightfully “bogey green” hue.