Plot: Herder’s fast-paced middle grade novel documents the Thompson family’s rapid rise to fame in their small, quirky Kentucky hometown, when daughter Adrianne plants a magically-growing squash seed. When the squash begins to grow, chaotic events snowball, and things go from bad to worse for Adrianne, her brother Joey, their conniving father and exhausted mother, and their entire community.
Prose: Herder authentically captures the voice of a girl suffering bullying and insecurity. The diction in this novel leans toward a country twang, with old-fashioned, ultimately charming, turns of phrase. The author maintains a gratifying balance between humor and emotion.
Originality: With it's magical premise, The Big Squash takes an original approach to exploring how relationships disintegrate when fame and fortune come into play, as well as the worry and confusion of puberty. Readers will relate and enjoy the story of a lonely girl struggling to determine what she really wants and whom she really values.
Character Development: Herder sensitively conveys the pain and uncertainty that can accompany childhood and early adolescence. Protagonist Adrianne’s desperate attempts to be noticed and appreciated by her father, are poignant. The eccentric residents of Mellsville and their claims to fame are mentioned often in passing, lending the town its own unique character.
Date Submitted: August 21, 2018