Review of ‘Squishy Taylor’ series
I am always keen to investigate any new series for newly independent readers. ‘Billie B Brown’ and ‘Hey Jack’ are the ones that many of you will be familiar with, but parents and teachers often ask me ‘where to from here?’ and, ‘what is the next step up from these titles?’. Newly independent readers need to experience success with their reading, and read a text with some fluency, in order that they build their confidence. However, it is equally as important that they are reading stories which are engaging, stories which they will connect with, and stories which model polished, sophisticated writing. Our youngest readers deserve the very, very best we have to offer in the way of books, in order that we ignite a love of words within them. ‘Start the way you intend to continue’ goes the saying: start with quality literature and you won’t ever look back.
And so to ‘Squishy Taylor’– a new series for young independent readers which is all of these things: sophisticated writing; engaging storylines; stories which will resonate with young people, and books which I hope will end up in the hands of many, many young readers. Like ‘Lola’s Toybox’ (another series for this age range which I highly recommend), ‘Squishy Taylor’ is perfect for readers who need the next step up from ‘Billie B Brown’ and ‘Billie B Brown Mysteries’.
Main character, Squishy Taylor (real name Sita), is a strong-willed, imaginative, problem-solving, reliable, adventurous, deep thinking and feeling little character and a fabulous role model for young people. Squishy is not blonde haired and blue eyed and how utterly refreshing it is to see someone from a mixed race background and living as a part of a blended family as the main character (not the token after-thought) in a new series for our young people, who need to see diversity in their literature, as in their lives.
Quality writing by Ailsa Wilde (read more about her, and the Squishy Taylor series here) is well-matched by gorgeous artwork created by the ever-talented Ben Wood, who has injected warmth, energy and soul into the illustrations of Squishy. Squishy and her dark, un-tameable hair leap throughout the pages of the books, and the half page illustrations, and text which is peppered with word art, certainly help to break up the text for newly independent readers.
The series begins with ‘Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters’ – which PudStar and I read together over three nights (“I don’t need you to read this with me mummy!” she says to me. “I know darling, but couldn’t you pretend to enjoy the process, because mummy wants to read it too”). Squishy is part of a blended family – a new kind of normal for so many kids. Between nightly Skype-chats with her Mum (who lives in Geneva), dealing with a noisy baby in the house, having to share a room with her two new step-sisters, and getting to know her new step-mum, it’s a complicated and busy life! And then into the mix comes a mystery – who is hiding out in the basement of their apartment block.