I picked out Squish Rabbit quite by accident. I had received it a few months back to review, but it had buried beneath an onslaught of children’s books that arrived shortly thereafter. Then in a delightful twist of fate I re discovered it, for which I am eternally grateful. It is a spectacular children’s book about the trials and tribulations of being small in a very, very big world.
Meet our main character, Squish. He’s a tiny bunny rabbit living amongst other beings that are significantly larger than him. Being so tiny can lead to all sorts of mishap…he’s hard to see (that’s how he got his name), no one takes notice of him or listens to his stories, and most of all, he’s terribly lonely being so little. He tries to make a pretend friend, but pretend friends can only do so much. He tries to play with the trees…but apparently they break rules. In a fit of despair Squish throws a tantrum, the results of which are nothing he could have foreseen. With an unexpected turn of events, Squish finds a way to make his voice much louder, and make a friend that makes him feel much bigger.
Just how do you go about depicting such a story line? There are plenty of mainstream ways surely, but author Katherine Battersby has come up with illustrations that are fantabulous and eclectic. She uses cut out pieces of material, such as cardboard or cloth, to make up things such as trees or flowers. It lends texture and depth to pages that are otherwise quite sparse. It’s the balance between the two that make this book ingenious. And Squish…let’s just say I am obsessed. He’s just a simple silhouette of a cartoony bunny rabbit, all black lines and asymmetric eyes. He is quite possibly one of the cutest characters I have stumbled upon recently.
I think perhaps I like this book so much because I can relate to it. I maxed out at age seventeen around the height of 5’2. I distinctly remember that moment at the doctor’s office when I hopefully asked how much taller I would get and the doctor said “Actually, your growth plates have closed.” It was like my life flashed before my eyes. I remembered all the times I had to crane my neck at the movies or a concert, all the times I nearly got trampled when school got out for the day, the book I had to stick under my butt so I could see over the steering wheel when I drove…I was, essentially, doomed to live the rest of my life like that. It was dreadful, but I had something that made it bearable-a best friend who was as short as me (maybe even a little shorter.) United we stood, divided…we got knocked over.
Needless to say I can fully appreciate the impact a good friend can have on one’s life, whether or not you’re tiny, whether or not people hear your voice. Having someone to listen to you and having someone to spend time with makes all the difference in the world, no matter who you are. It’s a good moral for kids- and one that pours off of every page of this book. Sure there’s plenty of children’s books with themes about friendship out there, but few of them have had quite as huge (pun intended)an impact as Squish Rabbit.