cover image Squashed


Joan Bauer. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (194pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30793-2

In the small farm town of Rock River, folks take competitive agriculture pretty seriously--and none more so than 16-year-old Ellie Morgan, who is staking everything on a massive pumpkin named Max. With the help of her new ``grower'' boyfriend, her staunch grandma and even Max's steady, 611-pounds of support, Ellie wins both the respect of her doubting father and the blue ribbon in an exciting Harvest Fair weigh-in climax. A winner herself--of the Delacorte Press Prize for a First YA Novel--Bauer underscores Ellie's bid for top honors with the reassuring rhythm of the cycle of life. She gently and powerfully affirms Ellie's need to nurture Max in her grief for her dead mother, and celebrates with both sadness and joy the end of Max's life, as Ellie returns him to the earth to nourish the fruit of his own seeds. Squashed is fast-paced and engrossing entertainment that startles the reader with its underlying strength. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)