Squish, the amoeba hero of brother and sister team Jennifer and Matthew Holm, is first introduced in Volume 14 of their highly successful Babymouse series. Babymouse, in all her pinkness, is forced to examine the water in the local pond in preparation for the school’s science fair. In a revolutionary manner (for the series), the colour green is introduced along with the personable, and talkative, amoeba Squish.
In the first three volumes of the spinoff series, Squish, readers are introduced to the fantasy life of Squish as a superhero and his actual life as an elementary school student. Squish’s father plays a minor role in all three volumes, a rather likeable but indiscernible character, but no sign of his mother, although she is mentioned at times. In the first volume, Squish Super Amoeba, the theme of bullying and peer pressure crowd the pages along with cheeky and delicious dialogue, science facts, and (did I already mention?) the colour green. Squish’s best friends are the exuberant Peggy the Paramecium and fellow amoeba Pod. As in its sister series, there are plenty of gags, action, and a bit of introspection for the reader if he or she decides to go that route. Similar in style and shape to the Babymouse series, the cartoon-like characters and action are mostly enclosed in large, thickly drawn panel frames, with arrows and caption boxes explaining anatomical details and offering snarky asides for the reader. The corresponding and intersecting superhero adventure deals with similar moral predicaments, aiding Squish in making his difficult decisions. Each volume concludes with a fun science suggestion and an art lesson presented by Squish’s best friends, Pod and Peggy.
Squish: Brave New Pound, the second volume, explores first-day anxieties and resolutions for a new school year. Squish tries to fulfill his growing list of “fresh starts” but remains bombarded by persistent issues of bullies, peer pressure, and ethical choices. As in the first volume, Squish’s comic book reading aids him in his decision-making. Super Amoeba is a upstanding and moral character righting wrongs, solving world problems, and helping with life’s little problems. His comic book adventure reflects Squish’s immediate situation in each volume, offering a two-tiered approach to each story arc.
The third volume, Squish: The Power of the Parasite, continues the thematic thrust of the first two volumes with new bullies and a new philosophical quandary for the hero, this time at swimming lessons. While Peggy and Pod are engaged in ballet classes, Squish meets a new friend who is as determined as he is not to get into the water. His new friend, however, is not exactly the best role model and Squish, along with his superhero comics and his imagination, needs to come to terms with the situation. All ends well, of course, but the added ballerina actions add an extra laugh and element of surprise. This reader is looking forward to revisiting the world of New Pond with future installments in the series.