A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story is more about change and life lessons, but it takes place in a setting where academics and culture are important. For example, one character goes to space camp, while one of the Lee sibs is a budding, determined musician and Avery is an artist.
Family sticks together, no matter what. Strong family bonds sometimes mean you don't get what you want, but often mean you eventually get what you need -- and sometimes weren't expecting. It's important to look out for each other and help solve each other's problems. "You can't step in the same river twice" -- change is inevitable, so best deal with it. The story tends to discourage/dismiss individual initiative and problem solving -- like earning money so you can have your own room -- in favor of group hugs, cooperation, acceptance, and togetherness, which can be a mixed blessing.
Positive Role Models
The Lee parents are loving, creative, and supportive -- and very committed to their family, though they are also often overwhelmed. The sibs are often a huge annoyance to each other, but also have a lot of love, support, and problem-solving skills when it matters. Big brother Theo is dealing with the fact that his onetime best friend has now joined a bunch of kids who bully and torment him. Avery's lifelong friend Cameron is wise, brainy, and loyal. Her other friend Dani seems to be replacing her with a new friend from summer vacation but trying to stay connected. A kindly elderly lady and her kindly elderly dog play an important role in the story.
As an apparently East Asian family with seven children, the Lees make dishes like japchae (a glass noodle and vegetable dish popular in Korean cuisine) and quesadillas for dinner and also love toast and jam. Rude people mock the parents in public for having such a large family. Currently Dad is a schoolteacher, while Mom has a coding internship, but that's about to change as Mom goes full time and Dad stays home to work on his book. Avery's friend Cameron, the principal's son, is Black; her friend Dani is redheaded and White. Bullying kids come in all races; so do kind people. People of varied skin tones, cultures, ages, and ethnicities are seen happily interacting as they go about their daily business.
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Violence & Scariness
Kids bully and torment older brother Theo but get their comeuppance tripping over Avery's skates. The young twins run away from home because they don't want to move, scaring the whole family quite a lot. A definite Oh No! moment when a dog Avery's responsible for escapes and may be lost and in danger. It all ends well.
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Occasional pee humor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Squished, a graphic novel by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Lee Nutter, is a lively, nuanced, relatable tale of being a kid in a big family. Obnoxious, whiny, clingy sibs; overwhelmed parents doing their best, who don't seem to take your needs seriously; never a moment of privacy -- it's all there, along with a lot of love, kindness, humor, empathy, support, and being there for each other, no matter what. Kids bully and torment older brother Theo. The story finds the large Lee family, especially oldest daughter (and thus designated "helper") Avery, 11, on the cusp of big changes, as friendships alter and the Lee parents ponder a cross-country move that will uproot the kids from everything they've ever known. "Kids don't get to make the big decisions like that" is a hard-won, painful lesson, but there may be good things to come of it all amid strong messages of accepting what you can't change.
Is It Any Good?
The joys, sorrows, sweet moments and maddening aggravations of life in a big family are in full view in this lively, colorful graphic novel as a tween girl deals with a summer of big changes. As told in Megan Wagner Lloyd's narrative and brought to life in Michelle Lee Nutter's engaging, appealing graphics, Squished is pretty much the story of 11-year-old protagonist Avery Lee's life, as she's overwhelmed by her large, loving, intrusive family and now faces a cross-country move uprooting her from her hometown, her friends, and much of herself. "If we move, I'll lose everything except being a Lee. I'll be more squished by my big family than ever," she sobs, and it will take more than group hugs to make things better.
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Our Editors Recommend
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