[Monday Reading] The Adventures of a Comic-Aficionado Amoeba: Squish 1-3

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.

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Sign up here to join us! Here is the July-September linky. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Slated by Teri Terry to two lucky CORL participants from July-September.

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.

Iphigene has outdone herself with this beautiful widget she created.

Iphigene has outdone herself with this beautiful widget she created.

When I found out that this middle-grade graphic novel is science-related, I made sure that I borrowed the first three books in the series from our public library. And I could definitely see this appealing to a lot of young comic-book-readers. I am glad that we have this reading theme, otherwise, I don’t think I would find myself picking these books from the library on my own.

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IMG_6153Squish: Super Amoeba

Written and Illustrated by: Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Published by: Random House, 2011
Borrowed through inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.

Unlike other middle grade graphic novels with glossy human protagonists and villains, this ingenious comic book expands the range of what can be conceived by the imagination by making use of other organisms that are in our universe, notwithstanding their microscopic nature. Enter Squish the Amoeba: a single-cellular organism with no bones, no mouth, no eyes.

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Except of course in this book where Squish is imbued with human traits and a certifiable geeky disposition as evidenced in his love for comic books. And so the reader has the double pleasure of reading another comic book within a comic book as Squish’s adventures may be paralleled to the events that are happening in the life of his favourite super hero, rightfully named Super Amoeba.

In this first book, the reader gets to know Squish’s best friend, Pod, the genius amoeba who has this annoying habit of asking Squish for his lunch money in exchange for his boring, but perfectly-healthy lunch. Squish always gives in despite the fact that he knows he’s being taken for a ride. Then there is Peggy, the Paramecium, who is depicted to be irritatingly-chirpy and seemed totally devoid and clueless of any sign of danger as she sees the best in everybody, even as she is being gradually eaten up by Lynwood, a scary amoeba of huge greenish proportions.

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Squish tries to save the life of his friend, Peggy, by holding on to the tenets noted by Super Amoeba himself who stated unequivocally in the poster that is hanging in Squish’s bedroom wall: “Have the courage to do what’s right!” But what if it means doing something wrong in the process? Lynwood is holding Squish hostage by claiming that he would eat Peggy if Squish does not allow him to copy off their plant test. This is a total conundrum. How the conflict is resolved, I shall leave for you to discover.

I was not particularly keen about the illustrations, but I enjoyed the narrative and its refreshingly-innovative concept. It manages to educate insidiously, without being didactic or bombarding the reader with too much information, just enough for one to be grossed out and become totally fascinated with the characters. Even the recommended mini-scientific experiments in the end are a lot of fun. Definitely worth checking out.

Squish: Brave New PondIMG_6156

Written and Illustrated by: Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Published byRandom House, 2011
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

It is the first day of school and Squish is determined to make a fresh start. In fact, he has come up with a list that would ensure that the new school year would be vastly different from the previous year’s.

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However, he was not off to a particularly good start as he was once again goaded by Pod to trade his lunch money for Pod’s unappetizing lunch prepared by his mother. Plus, they arrived late for the first day of school (no thanks to Pod’s seemingly obsessive-compulsive behaviours), and yes detention on the first day. Things started looking up for Squish (literally and otherwise) with the presence of the new students in their school, the Algae Brothers.

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It appears like Squish has found new friends indeed. Except for the fact that the Algae Brothers require a fairly-stiff price for their friendship. It started with Squish’s hat which one of the Algae brothers had taken a liking to, and then graduating towards Squish having to prove his worth and his coolness by making fun of his old friend Pod and embarrassing him in front of everyone during lunch at the cafeteria.

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Super Amoeba, the audacious comic-book superhero, takes center stage once again, as he is likewise invited to be part of a glamorous crime-fighting-team not unlike Super Friends – except that this group is called the Protozoans. Once again, the circumstances between Squish and Super Amoeba converge with Squish being invited to be part of the super-exclusive and ultra-cool Algae group.

Whether or not Squish would give in to the wishes of the Algae Brothers, I shall leave for you to discover. This is a perfect read-aloud for the first day of school, as many children struggle for acceptance and find themselves in very similar situations where they are given a choice to do what is right and what is easy (to echo Dumbledore’s sage words).

IMG_6160Squish: The Power Of The Parasite

Written and Illustrated byJennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Published by: Random House, 2012
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

It is summer vacation. Squish has the option of attending either swim camp or ballet camp. Since he did not relish the idea of doing plies, he thought that he might as well spend his summer vacation learning how to swim. It is in this “super awesome fun” swim camp that he made a new friend named Basil, who loves the Super Amoeba comics as much as Squish does.

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The two enjoyed playing truant together as swimming happens to be the last thing on their mind while at swim camp. Basil is the perfect partner in crime as he uses his tentacles to poke generally-harmless fun at the other people who are in the pool.

Once again, the adventures of Super Amoeba, the comicbook superhero, parallels the experiences of Squish as Super Amoeba finds a sidekick-slash-partner in the presence of The Parasite, who was also a great deal of fun in the beginning.

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When the ‘super awesome fun’ is now happening at the expense of someone getting hurt (or in Super Amoeba’s case, bank robberies and outright bullying rationalized with a burning sense of self-entitlement as befitting superheroes in the community), then Squish is once again at a crossroads as to what he would choose.

While I generally dislike Squish’s friends – I find Pod to be a bully himself with his constant manipulation of Squish to give him his lunch money, while Peggy is generally depicted as a blathering airhead who seemed to have very little sense, if at all – I liked the character of Squish’s father who provides sound advice several pages too late. I think this third issue is the one I enjoyed best of all.

Currently Reading…

I finished reading three novels last week: Steampunk H. G. Wells with illustrations by Zdenko Basic, What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor, and Abarat by Clive Barker – the latter I have been reading aloud to my 12 year old girl for the past several weeks.

Since my daughter is in an extended summer vacation with her being accepted to the Singapore School of the Arts, a specialized secondary arts school whose school year begins next year (January 2015), I am happy to be spending quite a great deal of time with her, as she has already finished her primary years (Grades 1-6) at an American school here (International Community School). And so for our homeschooling curriculum in the next two weeks, I will be introducing the classics to her through graphic novel adaptations done by Gareth Hinds. We will be plowing through these titles perhaps for two or three weeks, a month at the most:

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Romeo and Juliet, The Odyssey, King Lear, Beowulf, and Gifts from the Gods written by Lise Lunge-Larsen with illustrations by Gareth Hinds.

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For my own delectation, I will do my best to at least make some headway with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with illustrations by Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumerac.

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must-read-in-2014-challenge

Reading Challenge Update: 227-229 (25)

11 Comments on [Monday Reading] The Adventures of a Comic-Aficionado Amoeba: Squish 1-3

  1. You never cease to amaze me, Myra – you read so widely! I need to read more graphic novels – and this series sounds perfect for some of my sixth graders. And they sound fun to read for me, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy Matt and Jenn Holm’s Babymouse series. Squish makes his first appearance in Mad Scientist which would fit with your theme, I think. Also, Franny K. Stein by Jim Benton. Hope you discover more not-your-typical-reading books with this theme!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just the title—Last Day in Vietnam—pulls me back to 1981 when I had a girl in my class who, with her family, had been among the boat people out of Vietnam. Sounds very compelling.

    Here’s my It’s Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Squish is hugely popular with my elementary students and teachers love the science connection – a win/win situation! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love Steampunk! HG Wells and Jules Verne Here is my Monday are two of my old school faves!

    Like

  6. Squish has grown on me. I thought the first book was ok, but by the last book, I felt like there was more of a story to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My third graders are big Squish fans!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve heard such good things about Squish, but I haven’t read them yet. I love how you give a glimpse inside the books with your photos and reactions to the books. I sometimes think the graphic novel adaptations make the classics much more accessible! Confession: the graphic novel was the only way I could get through Moby Dick!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks Myra – We love the way you described the Squish series. This is a terrific post for students to read and think about how they can write about series they love.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello, dear Myra! Thank you for your post today! I love your new “star” background to your blog. You are a book star to me! You read so many books every week! I am now fascinated with Squish! I have not seen these books before but see that they will be hugely popular in my school! I am also interested in the book about Tiananmen Square – is it wordless? Have a wonderful week with all your book friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My kids love Squish, though I do agree with you on the problems with his friends! I love the Hind adaptations I’ve read so far. I need to get some more. I have read Beowolf and Odyssey.

    Liked by 1 person

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