SQUASHED IN THE MIDDLE

Elizabeth Winthrop, Author, Pat Cummings, Illustrator , illus. by Pat Cummings. Holt $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6497-1

The emotional vividness and ultra-contemporary vibe of Cummings's (Angel Baby ) mixed-media paintings make this an especially sympathetic treatment of middle-child angst. Daisy not only feels "squashed right in the middle of her noisy family," but also unheard. As Winthrop (Dumpy La Rue ) eloquently puts it, her parents and siblings "talked to Daisy, they talked about Daisy and they talked right over Daisy's head. But when Daisy talked, nobody ever listened." When the family tries to put the kibosh on Daisy's first sleepover at a friend's house (" 'She'll come home in the middle of the night,' said her sister in her big-know-it-all voice"), Daisy goes anyway—then stands her ground when everyone shows up at her friend's door. The family wisely heeds the lesson in this incident, and each gives Daisy his or her full attention the next morning when she regales them with stories of snacking and staying up late. Cummings frequently brings readers nose to nose with the action or makes it seem as if her richly rendered characters are bumping up against the edges of the page; she thus underscores the oppressiveness Daisy experiences within her family while also conveying the tightness of the bond she shares with Rosa, her supportive sleepover pal. Although the plot resolution may be familiar, it still feels piquant, and may well strike a chord with many readers—regardless of their birth order. Ages 5-9. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/18/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 978-0-06-024489-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4301-0443-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4301-0440-7
Hardcover - 978-0-06-024490-3
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