Title: Brave Squish Rabbit
Author: Katherine Battersby
Illustrator: Katherine Battersby
Publisher: Viking, 2012
Audience: Ages 2 and up
Summary: Squish is a little stuffed rabbit who is afraid of many things, including storms, chickens, and most especially the dark. Squish’s usual modus operandi is to hide from the dark as much as possible, but one day his best friend Twitch disappears, and he bravely sets out to find her. Equipped only with a pot full of what must be lightning bugs, a helmet made from an acorn cap, and an even tinier toy bunny in a wagon, Squish must confront every one of his biggest fears. In the middle of the darkest night, he finally finds Twitch, and they sit together under a starry sky. Squish is still a little rabbit, “but being brave made him feel much bigger.”
Literary elements at work in the story: Brave Squish Rabbit has only the barest of story lines, and Squish himself is created from only the barest of cartoon lines. He is a white bunny with two ears, a round tail and two eyes. Writer/illustrator Battersby portrays emotion with Squish’s physical responses to friends and to the fearful trifecta of lightning, massive yellow chickens, and the dark. Even the youngest readers will be able to identify with Squish’s frightened paws to eyes at the sight of yellow feathers or wide-armed delight at the reappearance of a friend.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Perspectives on gender and race take a backseat in this story of the power of friendship. However, since cultural stereotyping draws much power from running beneath the radar, it may be worth noting that the frightened bunny here is male, while his best (brave) friend is female. This is also an inter-species friendship; Squish is a rabbit, and Twitch is a squirrel.
Theological Conversation Partners: Human beings are an anxious lot, so Brave Squish Rabbit would be a good book to open up a discussion about worry with young children. One of God’s most oft-repeated phrases is “Fear not!” (see Genesis 15:1, Isaiah 41:13, Isaiah 43:5, Matthew 1:20, Luke 2:10, Acts 27:24). The point is that we are not alone when we call upon God. Squish certainly does not talk about relying upon God, but he does give a loving adult an opportunity to help children talk about their fears and reassure them that God is always with them.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What things scare Squish?
- Do you ever get scared? What sorts of things make you afraid?
- Why do you think that Squish wanted to find his friend Twitch?
- What did Squish have to do to find Twitch?
- The Bible tells us that God loves each of us very much. Who do you think will be with you when you are scared?
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduate Beth Lyon-Suhring.