Being one of seven children isn’t easy. Everyday is another day of chaos in the Lee household. It’s even more stressful when all you want is a little space of your own, but it’s always just out of reach. That’s the dilemma facing Avery Lee in Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter’s Squished

It’s the summer before sixth grade (middle school!) and 11-year-old Avery is determined to make the most of it. When her parents inform her that her older brother Theo will be getting his own room, she becomes set on getting the thing she wants the most: her own private space. That’s right, somewhere without her younger siblings climbing all over everything, somewhere where she can work on her art, and where she can spend solo time with Miss Kitty, her beloved cat. Things reach a tipping point when her younger brother Max decides to make himself the center of attention and rush the stage at Avery’s fifth grade graduation. Between that and Theo getting his own room, her goal for summer is doing what she can to get her very own bedroom. 

Avery’s attempts at making money to fund her bedroom are a bust; she can’t seem to do anything without her siblings involving themselves and turning every situation into a disaster. Then her best friend meets another friend, one who has her own pool! Just when things seem like they can’t get any more hectic, Avery’s parents inform her they’re considering a cross-country move. Sure, she might be her dad’s helper extraordinaire, but how can she trust her parents when they want to leave Hickory Valley, the only place she’s ever lived, her home? 

Squished is the story of a summer of change. Avery is an immediately likable protagonist, one who kids will find relatable, especially ones struggling to find their place in their own family. She acts impulsively and is often quite selfish at multiple times throughout the book. She is not a perfect daughter, sister, or friend, and these qualities only make her more appealing as a main character. She acts on emotions and doesn’t always think of how her actions affect the people she cares about. Readers around Avery’s age who find themselves struggling with how to handle big emotions may find a sense of solidarity with her. 

The book’s art is warm and realistic, with individual character’s personalities shining through in their depictions. Readers see the frustration and the stress, along with their joy and familiarity, in the character’s faces. With so many kids in the house, there’s often action happening behind the scenes in the busier panels. It’s hard not to feel the stress Avery is facing with so much happening right in front of you on the page. 

With its emphasis on life in a big family, readers who enjoy The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels, as well as readers who liked the delightful Allergic, Lloyd and Nutter’s first graphic novel collaboration, also for middle grade readers, may find Squished up their alley  Readers outside of the intended age range may also find themselves drawn to the Lee family; there’s someone and something for nearly everyone to relate to in Avery’s story. 

Squished
By Megan Wagner Lloyd
Art by Michelle Mee Nutter
Scholastic GRAPHIX, 2023
ISBN: 9781338568936

Publisher Age Rating: 8-12

NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)
Character Representation: Korean-American

  • Meredith

    | she/her Library Coordinator

    Reviewer

    Meredith is a library coordinator with the Free Library of Philadelphia. Previously, she worked as a children's librarian at a Free Library branch for seven years, where she prided herself on the graphic novel collection. She has volunteered with the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table in various positions, including as co-chair of the Convention Planning Committee, and previously served as a juror for the EBSCO SEE-IT Award for youth graphic novels. In her free time, she likes spending time with her two cats and writer husband, all things theme park related, and of course, sharing her thoughts on what she's reading, primarily via Goodreads. You can find her on Twitter at @meredithmc.

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