Lloyd, Magan Wagner. Squished. Illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter. Graphix, 2023. 978-1-338-56894-3. 246 p. $24.99. Grades 2-5.
Welcome to Hickory Valley, Maryland. Home to Avery Lee, her SIX siblings, and their parents. All Avery wishes for is her own room where she can spread out her art supplies and have some alone time before she starts middle school. This wish doesn’t look like it’s in cards though. When her parents announce they are moving to Oregon, Avery is angry. She doesn’t want to move away from the house, school, and town she has grown up in, and most importantly she doesn’t want to move away from the only friends she has ever known. Her brother Theo feels differently. Having been bullied by Avery’s best friend’s brother, Theo is excited to start over. Will Avery make peace with her family moving across the country?
THOUGHTS: This book by the author/illustrator duo who wrote Allergic, is a must for any school library. It’s everything fans of Raina Telgemeier are looking for in a graphic novel.
The team that brought us the middle grade graphic novel Allergic in 2021 is back with Squished! Eleven-year old Avery Lee lives with her Korean American family in beautiful Hickory Valley, Maryland, where she luxuriates in having her very own, totally amazing room … at least, that’s the dream. In reality, she and her large family are squished into their house, and Avery shares her room with one of her six siblings … make that two of her siblings when two-year old Max moves in. Avery dotes on her brothers and sisters, but she also longs for privacy, space for her artwork, and a good night’s sleep. She devises a plan to earn enough money to renovate the basement into a bedroom, but one stumbling block after another foils her efforts. Along the way, friendships and Avery’s love/hate relationship with 13-year old brother Theo evolve as a potential family move to Oregon looms large. One quibble: the print in some of the panels is tiny, even for the young eyes of the intended audience. If only it weren’t so squished!
THOUGHTS: With an endearing main character and engaging illustrations, this book’s heart is bigger than the Lee family!
Fifth grader, Avery Lee, is one of seven children in a large Korean American family. Avery loves her neighborhood, has two best friends, and can’t wait for the upcoming summer fair. But life at home is chaotic and Avery is sometimes embarrassed by her large family. Not to mention, Avery has to share a bedroom while Theo, Avery’s big brother, gets a room all to himself. It’s so unfair! Resilient as ever, Avery comes up with a plan to make money to renovate her family’s basement so she can at least have her own bedroom. But nothing ever goes as planned in the busy Lee household, especially when Avery has to take care of her younger siblings. Then Avery finds out her parents are thinking about a move across the country, her best friend finds someone else to hang out with, and she’s struggling to find time for her art entry for the summer fair. Avery expresses difficult emotions after the loss of an important friendship and several missed opportunities, but in the end, she navigates these major life changes with grace and humor.
THOUGHTS: This story addresses strong feelings, family dynamics, and the importance of belonging. Fans of Raina Telgemeier will enjoy Avery’s story; however, the challenges and responsibilities Avery faces may feel unrealistic to readers that are not from a large family. In addition, the unusually large number of siblings make this story a bit of an outlier. I prefer Lloyd and Nutter’s earlier collaboration, Allergic (Graphix, 2021).