Back to School: Sophie's Squash Goes to School by Pat Zietlow Miller
ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, SOPHIE PEEKED INTO THE CLASSROOM
KIDS WERE EVERYWHERE.
TALKING. LAUGHING. BOUNCING.
"YOU'LL MAKE LOTS OF FRIENDS," SAID HER MOTHER. SOPHIE CLUTCHED HER BACKPACK.
"I WON'T!" SHE SAID.
Sophie is an only child who likes things her way--quiet. She only likes to play with Bonnie and Baxter, the squash twins, the children of her first friend, Bernice the Squash. When Bernice began to soften, she had reluctantly planted her in the garden and waited all winter for her new best friends, Bonnie and Baxter, to grow. And now Sophie has to go to school every day. But at least Bonnie and Baxter can go with her.
Still, Sophie doesn't like school.
THE CHAIRS WERE UNCOMFORTABLE. THE MILK TASTED FUNNY. AND NO ONE APPRECIATED BONNIE AND BAXTER.
Norman even wanted to know if they could eat them!
Sophie quietly does as she is told, but by herself. Her teacher is patient, but one kid, Steven Green, seems to be curious about Sophie and her two friends with the painted smiles. It seems he's always there, next to her at circle time, at recess, lunch time, and during art time. Sometimes he just stands so close he breathes on her.
"HE'S JUST TRYING TO BE NICE," SAID MISS PARK.
Sophie is having none of it, and gives Steven Green the cold shoulder, even when he offers his plush frog Marvin to play with Bonnie and Baxter.
But as the school year passes, Sophie begins to notice the tell-tale signs. Bonnie and Baxter are beginning to shrink, soften, and get freckled, and she realizes that the time is coming when she will have to put them to bed in the garden for their long winter's sleep. One morning, with autumn leaves falling outside the windows, as Sophie lovingly draws Bonnie and Baxter's squash babies, her teacher Miss Park asks a question:
"WHAT MAKES A GOOD FRIEND?"
And Sophie begins to think about that question, in Pat Zietlow Miller's brand-new sequel to her acclaimed first book, Sophie's Squash (see review here). Sophie considers the long lonely winter ahead and realizes that there's been a good friend there, right beside her, all along, in Sophie's Squash (Schwartz and Wade, 2016). With artist Anne Wilsdorf's charming ink and watercolor illustrations again aboard to help tell the story, Miller's new picture book is about much more than the usual back-to-school anxieties--a story about growing up and out and accepting others, even if she is not exactly in charge of their friendship, about what children bring to school and what school brings to them. Sophie at last sees that, like squash...
"SOMETIMES GROWING A FRIEND JUST TAKES TIME."