Squishy Taylor #1: Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters – Ailsa Wild

Illustrations – Ben Wood

Spoilers Ahead!

I’ve already read the first six books in the Squishy Taylor series but when the opportunity arose to revisit where her story began I jumped at the chance. It’s been almost two years (wow, that’s flown!) since I first discovered Squishy in my local library and I wanted to know if she was still as adorable as I remembered. Of course she was!

I love Squishy. I love her bonus sisters (twins Jessie and Vee). I love her baby brother. I love her Mum, her Dad and her bonus Mum. I love all of the extra people you meet as you explore Squishy’s world, even the cranky, mean ones. Squishy is one of my favourite book kids. She’s one of those people that you say, “You’ve got spunk, kid!” to, even though you can’t remember the last time you called someone ‘kid’ and you’ve never told one they have ‘spunk’ before.

This series is aimed at kids from 9 to 14 years but I would have probably read this when I was around 7 or 8. In the series Squishy is an adorable, energetic 11 year old, with her bonus sisters five months older and a grade higher at school. I also personally feel they tend to act younger than 11 but it’s not like I have a lot of kids in my life to compare them with.

I expect this series and especially the first book would helpful for readers who are new to blended families. I appreciate that the situation Squishy finds herself in is realistic. While she Skypes her Mum each day, she misses seeing her face to face. She’s having trouble adjusting to the new family that’s been moulded together when her Dad remarried. She feels ganged up against by her twin stepsisters. I absolutely adore the idea of having bonus people in your life; for example, bonus sisters instead of stepsisters. The concept of bonus puts such a positive spin on a difficult situation and Squishy’s attitude realignment is a pivotal scene in the first book.

Squishy and her bonus sisters get into trouble. At times they’re manipulative and make downright dodgy decisions to do mean things to people, but they’re kids. They bounce off one another and come up with schemes they’d never dare to try to pull off alone. Overall they’re sisters with big hearts who want to help people and love to solve mysteries in their neighbourhood.

Baby siblings rarely get named in children’s books these days for some reason and this was the book that made me notice it. In this series, I’ve only ever known Baby as Baby (so far). Perhaps he’ll get a name at some point.

Throughout the series I’ve really loved Ben Wood’s illustrations. The pictures have a fun energy about them and Squishy’s personality in particular shines through. You get the sense he really enjoys bringing this family to life and unlike a lot of children’s books I’ve read recently, Ben’s illustrations work with the feel of the book and what’s happening in the pictures lines up with what’s happening in the story. A few months ago I wouldn’t have commented on something that seems so trivial but after the amount of images I’ve seen recently that appear to have little to do with the details mentioned in the story, this has become a new selling point for me.

Squishy asks the all important question when making a decision in this book: “Which is more fun?”. A lot of adults could learn something from her.

Naturally because I’ve just reread the first book in the series I’ll need to reread the others as well before I read books 7 and 8 for the first time. 😃 Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone for reminding me how much I love Squishy.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Sita ‘Squishy’ Taylor is a cheeky, sneaky 11-year-old who lives with her dad and step-family in a very crowded apartment. Luckily for Squishy, their building is huge – and there’s always plenty of mysteries to investigate! Like …

Who’s that hiding in the basement?

Why does Squishy have to share everything with her new step-sisters?

Why is her next-door neighbour the crankiest man in the world?

Why are green jelly snakes the yummiest?

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