Carmen's Reviews > The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy

The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy by Beatrice Alemagna
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it was amazing
bookshelves: children, fiction, traditionally-published, city-picture-book, she-says, italian-author, published2015
Recommended for: Kids; Parents

I don't really have an opening quote for this.*

I found this amazing little book quite by accident. When you open it, you are shocked by the neon pink end pages. Then the story begins.

My name is Edith, but my friends call me Eddie. I'm five-and-a-half years old.

My dad speaks five languages, my mom sings like a bird, my sister is an ice-skating queen, but me - I don't know how to do anything.

Nothing at all. That's what I think, anyway.

We see her waking up, getting dressed, and brushing her teeth.

On the next page we see her in the kitchen, drinking from a huge cup that has crazy bubbles flying out of it.

This morning I heard my sister say these words: "birthday - Mommy - fuzzy - little - squishy." "Oh, no!" I thought. "She's going to give Mom the most amazing present!"

I had to do something. But what?

Eddie runs through the streets of Paris to find Mr. John, the baker. She knows that with all his wonderful, squishy things he will be able to help her.

Running through the streets of Paris

"Hello, Mr. John! Do you have a FLUFFY SQUISHY?"

"I must say, little Eddie, that sounds completely inedible, but I do have some warm brioches. Take one for the road."

Eddie runs off to see Wendy, the prettiest florist in the whole neighborhood.

She walks into the florist's shop and we see a perfectly ordinary woman with short red hair and glasses.

"A TUFTY FLUFFY? That must be a fuzzy plant," Wendy decided. "Take this clover. It will bring you luck."

Wendy hands Eddie a four-leaf clover.

The fluffiest place Eddie can think of is Mimi's shop - a boutique. She is sure she will find the Wonderful fluffy little squishy there.

"A FLUFFY FUZZY? Oh, my dear girl, fuzzy isn't fashionable at all! But here, take this. It's very precious," Mimi assured me.

Mimi hands Eddie a mother-of-pearl button.

Mimi runs off through the streets of Paris to go see the most fashionable person in the whole wide world.

This is Emmett, the antique dealer. Note: the readers can see he is not the least bit fashionable.

"A PLUMP WHATSIT?" asked Emmett. "Hmmm... I don't have anything quite like that, Eddie. But here is a real treasure for your mother: a stamp from the British Navy. EX-TRE-ME-LY RARE! I'm sure she'll love it."

And he proceeds to hand over a stamp (worth hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars) to a five-and-a-half year old. Or possibly he's just fucking with her and the stamp is practically worthless? Not clear.

Either way, Eddie doesn't appreciate it and is rather disappointed by the stamp.

She takes it and runs through the streets of Paris to Theo's shop. He's the butcher.

The big grump was my last hope.

Theo's butcher shop is laid out in loving detail by Alemagna. Cuts of meat, hog's heads hanging from the ceiling, and pictures on the wall detailing cuts of meat.

"A what? A SILLY SQUISHY?" yelled Theo, pointing his big knife right at my nose. "I don't have time for such foolishness! Go on, get out of here, Eddie!"

We see Theo leaning over Eddie, holding a bloody, dripping knife right over Eddie's upturned face. The blood is about to fall on her nose and forehead.

She runs away.

AAAHHHH! I was so scared that I ran out of there as fast as a jack rabbit.

Darn it all! And now it was snowing. I felt so tired and discouraged that I looked for a place to rest.

It's just as she's given up that she hears some little giggles coming from the roof of a nearby house. She sees it!

It was an adorable little creature! Fluffy, inedible, not stylish, and rare. A true FLUFFY LITTLE SQUISHY, at last! My present with a thousand uses!

The thing looks like an extremely fluffy, bright neon pink rat.

Eddie explains and illustrates all its uses: pillow, scarf, decorative plant, amazing hat, personal masseuse, treasure-finder, duster, living sculpture, paintbrush. How about pet? I think it would work best as a pet.

Eddie uses Mr. John's brioche to try and lure the creature down from the roof. But it slips and falls into a garbage can. And Quentin the garbage man has just come round to collect it. Eddie begs him to open the trash bag, but he refuses to do so for such a dirty old rag.

Eddie, thinking about what rotten luck she's experiencing, goes rooting around in her pocket for the four-leaf clover that Wendy gave her. But when the old Navy stamp falls to the ground, Quentin's eyes widen.

"What's that?" Quentin burst out.

"English navy. EX-TRE-ME-LY RARE!"

Eddie shouts out, imitating Emmett. Quentin exclaims that he doesn't have this one in his collection. He offers to buy it off Eddie. She refuses, but offers it to him in exchange for the bag of trash.

The wonderful fluffy little squishy is now stinky and dirty. Eddie needs to give it a bath! Luckily there is a coin-operated fountain nearby. But Eddie doesn't have any coin! She uses Mimi's mother-of-pearl button, and the fountain miraculously works.

We stood under a waterfall of mist and snow. It was a beautiful sight and all the people applauded.

Eddie snuggles the wonderful fluffy little squishy and carries it home.

It was the best day ever! Because nobody before me had ever discovered such a wonder, which meant that I now knew how to do something better than anyone else: how to find FLUFFY LITTLE SQUISHIES.

Her mom is delighted with the squishy, putting it on her head as a hat.

"This FLUFFY LITTLE SQUISHY is the best present ever! Did you find it yourself?"

"I did! Me and my WONDERFUL FRIENDS!"


Okay, let's discuss this.

I picked this book up completely on a whim. I had no idea what to expect. It surprised and delighted me, even though I'm still not exactly sure what it was about.

The little girl does not think she is good at anything, but she is such a good person. What I really liked about this book was how she sees her (perfectly ordinary) friends. She thinks Wendy is the prettiest florist in the neighborhood. Wendy is a normal-looking woman with short red hair and glasses. She is not particularly pretty. But to Eddie, she is gorgeous. Eddie describes Emmett as: "the most fashionable person in the whole wide world." But we see Emmett as a chubby guy with glasses wearing a red sweater vest over a striped shirt. He's certainly not fashionable. But Eddie thinks he is.

I love how children see the world and I think Alemagna is doing a great job here. To a five-and-a-half year old, Grandmother may seem impossibly elegant. Mother may seem like the most beautiful woman in existence. The neighbor may seem like the smartest woman on the planet. But to adults, perhaps these people seem ordinary or plain. I love how she has captured a child's loving and exaggerated worldview here. Even as an adult, one can find that love colors your perspective on people. Also, seeing the true goodness in a person can make them 10x more beautiful and attractive to you. So even adults can hold on to this magic through love.

Her wonderful friends

I also like how Eddie runs through her Paris neighborhood. There are no adults with her. Everyone knows her. When they see her, they indulge her by giving her a little something from their shop. I like this community-style life and I like Eddie's freedom and great knowledge of her neighborhood and neighbors here.

I like how the wonderful fluffy little squishy actually exists - it isn't a figment of her imagination, and at the end she can proudly hand it to her mother, who is delighted. I wasn't sure how Alemagna was going to play this, but she goes all the way with this fantasy - the creature is real and Eddie finds one. She doesn't play it off as a rag or a stuffed animal or a hat or a discarded scarf that Eddie's imagination is bringing to life. The squishy is a living, breathing animal that is a shocking neon pink.

Which brings me to the exquisite pictures in this book. I could gush about them all day. Alemagna's brilliant use of colors is only ONE of the things that stands out. The bright day-glo pink of both the wonderful fluffy little squishy AND Eddie's puffy winter coat stand out and offer bright sparks of color for the reader to follow on each page. It's perfect, and spruces up an otherwise dull (purposefully dull) color scheme. This winter coat is EXACTLY the kind of thing a five-year-old girl would love and wear everywhere.

Not only that, but her illustrations are just top-notch. Wonderful. Words can't do them justice.

As I said earlier, the point of this story is rather unclear. The power of friendship? Her friends' generosity certainly makes everything possible for Eddie. Eddie being good at something? The book tries to claim it is finding the wonderful fluffy little squishy, but the reader can easily see that it is her loving, exuberant nature and her ability to love and worship those around her that makes her endearing and beloved by everyone. So she already is 'good at something' - something she is blind to. And it's not really a book about finding a present for your mother, at least not in my opinion.

Tl;dr - Oh, well. Despite it's muddled ideas, this book is a charmer. Stunning illustrations. A sweet heroine who has a lot of energy and friends all over town. A cute little animal kids will love - reminiscent of Coville's purring fluffy alien in his My Teacher Is An Alien series, another favorite of children.

Even though I'm not always a fan of Alemagna - I didn't like A Lion in Paris, for example - she knocks it out of the park with this one. Highly recommended.

*That usually indicates a bad book, but not this time. :D

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Reading Progress

March 3, 2017 – Started Reading
March 3, 2017 – Shelved
March 3, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ Love this title, will look into this one for my granddaughter.

Carmen Diane S ☔ wrote: "Love this title, will look into this one for my granddaughter."

Thank you, Diane. It is a hidden gem.

message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna Wonderful review, Carmen. Thanks for including many examples of the nice illustrations. I enjoyed them and your summary of this cute story. I was surprised the creature did exist. Maybe the story is in part about believing in something and not giving up. It's a good book to discuss with kids to get their interpretation of it. :)

Carmen Wonderful review, Carmen. Thanks for including many examples of the nice illustrations. I enjoyed them and your summary of this cute story. I was surprised the creature did exist. Maybe the story is in part about believing in something and not giving up. It's a good book to discuss with kids to get their interpretation of it. :)

Thank you, Donna! I think discussing books with children is THE MOST FUN. Definitely we should ask children's opinion!

carol. Great review. Looks like a fun story... and the artwork is gorgeous.

Carmen Great review. Looks like a fun story... and the artwork is gorgeous.

Thank you, Carol! It is great. Even though I didn't enjoy the author's other book, I'm glad I gave her a second chance.

message 7: by Arah-Lynda (new)

Arah-Lynda Simply delightful.

Carmen Arah-Lynda wrote: "Simply delightful."

Thank you, Arah-Lynda. I thought so. :)

message 9: by Mike (new)

Mike Really enjoyed finding this wonderfully terrific review you've composed, Carmen. Love the illustrations you've attached.

Carmen Mike wrote: "Really enjoyed finding this wonderfully terrific review you've composed, Carmen. Love the illustrations you've attached."

Thank you, Mike. It's a delightful book. :)

carol. Shoot, I don't need to bother with a review. I'll just refer people here. :D

Carmen Carol. wrote: "Shoot, I don't need to bother with a review. I'll just refer people here. :D"

LOL I did include a lot of pictures / summary. My review is longer than the book, LOL

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