Squishy Taylor is a new(ish) series from Melbourne writer and acrobat Ailsa Wild. There are six books in the series now I think. I read a volume that combines the first three books. Each book is about 120 pages, and involves Squishy and her sisters solving a mystery.
Squishy is an 11 year old girl who lives with her blended family in a rather crowded Melbourne apartment. Her mum lives works for the UN in Geneva, and she lives with her dad, her stepmother Alice, her two bonus (twin) stepsisters, and her half brother Baby. That's some complicated family logistics right there. Squishy is of course a nickname, her real name is Sita which is her In Trouble name. Squishy is mixed race, her mum is Indian and her father caucasian, while her step mother and step-sisters are Asian.
In Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters Squishy finds a boy living in the basement car park of her building. In Squishy Taylor and a Question of Trust there are diamond thieves about in Melbourne, and in Squishy Taylor and the Vase that Wasn't a valuable Chinese vase disappears from the apartment building and it seems a Chinese-Warrior ghost took it.
All three stories are very fun, and a breeze to read. The text is broken up by words or phrases in a bigger different font (I've tried to find what that is called- it must be called something?), and there are fabulous illustrations throughout by Ben Wood. Ben shares how he designed Squishy here.
The Melbourne setting is great. The girls travel about on the tram quite freely. In the first book Squishy hasn't really settled in with her step family yet since she moved in seven and a half weeks ago. She doesn't get along with her twin stepsisters, because "they are about 95% annoying and 5% really, really annoying" which is awkward when all three share the same room, and indeed a triple bunk bed. The girls do come together over their first adventure, and then share the exploits in the following books. It's a great idea to have Squishy live in a large apartment building, there's always a lot going on, and kids always notice the comings and goings of other resident, and know who's who in their surroundings.
The Squishy Taylor series is a fabulous new series for young readers. I guess the covers will appeal to girls more as there is quite a bit of pink but there is plenty to appeal to boys too, with regular rock climbing, ninja tricks in and out of bed and plenty of action and often quite daring stunts required to solve the mysteries.
I love these books too, but sadly they didn't generate a lot of interest in the shop, though I tried. I think most of my 10yr old readers were looking for something chunkier & the 8 yr olds who like a slimmer book seem to prefer cats & dog stories right now.
Oh that's such a shame. Maybe the awards lists will bring more kid readers like it did me? I sure hope so. Squishy deserves her success, they're great stories, well written with fab illustrations.
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