Kevin Sherry’s debut picture book, I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, remains a classic with its humor and cartoon illustrations. In 2014, Sherry began writing and illustrating beginning chapter graphic novels and had two successful short series; Remy Sneakers and the Yeti Files. His latest series, Squidding Around, shows the same sense of humor, gentle lessons for young readers, and colorful cartoons, while returning to his origins under the ocean.
Squizzard is simply the best. He’s got lots of cool talents, he’s full of great ideas, and he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s also got a best friend, Toothy, a great white shark. They’re on their way to school, at least that’s what Toothy thinks. Squizzard has other ideas—lots of them! He’d rather play tricks on Toothy, come up with some cool games (Toothy is the villain, of course) and do magic tricks, like squirt ink. When they finally arrive at school in the coral reefs, Squizzard realizes he forgot to bring anything in for an oral report—Toothy will help him stall though, right? But when Squizzard makes fun of Toothy and gets him into trouble, it’s the last straw and Toothy says they’re not friends anymore.
Squizzard goes through a lot of denial, justification, and argument, before he finally admits that it’s true—he’s been a bad friend. With the help of Shay, a seahorse, he begins to change, becoming a kinder and less shellfish (ha ha) squid. When Toothy saves Squizzard and the new friends he’s made by being helpful, he thinks all is well again—but Squizzard finds out that a broken friendship takes more than just an apology to repair.
Sherry’s bold colors and lines show the wacky characters in high definition. Toothy is a plump and nerdy shark (in shorts) and bright red Squizzard pops up all over the place, waving his tentacles in excitement as he disrupts everything. The story is woven with facts about the fish, switching from their cartoon depiction to more realistic illustrations, as we learn about the barracuda bully, coral reefs, and great white sharks. The text is bold and there is generous white space between the panels, helping intermediate readers easily follow the progression of the story.
This funny story includes some great lessons about ocean creatures—including an author’s note about symbiosis – as well as showing readers how Squizzard learns how to be a friend. While his jokes and hijinks will keep the kids laughing, they’ll also see that there’s a difference between laughing at someone and laughing with them, and that it takes real work to repair a friendship. A sequel is planned for 2021 and beginning readers who enjoyed Sherry’s previous chapter books will be eager to get their fins on this new undersea adventure. Teachers and school librarians especially will want to be sure to add this series to their classroom and school libraries and use it as a fun and easy way to incorporate social-emotional learning into their reading time.
Squidding Around: Fish Feud!
By Kevin Sherry
Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)