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*The Squishiness of Things* by Marc Kompaneyets

The Squishiness of Things
by Marc Kompaneyets
ages 4-8 40 pages Knopf Books for Young Readers July 2005 Hardcover    

My favorite children’s books are the ones that are so clever, witty and sophisticated that I like them more than my child does! The Squishiness of Things by Marc Kompaneyets is one of those special books that enchants and delights even this jaded 43-year-old reader, and is sure to do the same for readers of all ages.

The clever and hilarious story centers on a genius named Hieronymus, who knows about everything, including the squishiness of many bugs, having himself personally crushed and squished thousands (16,567 to be exact). He also knows about other stuff, like how sausages bounce and how many lentils it would take to dam up the Nile, and whether or not ink tasted salty (yuk!). In fact, in his lab, Hieronymus is the wisest man on earth, until he spots a mysterious hair that he cannot identify, even from his collection of 36 million kinds of hairs.

Off he goes on a worldwide quest in search of someone who can tell him more about the mysterious hair. He meets with some pretty strange folks with some pretty strange names. But none of them can tell him where the hair originated.

Like most of us, Hieronymus finds his answer right where he started his search, so to speak. Accompanied by wonderful and rich illustrations that bring the determined genius to life and give emotion and depth to the strange people he encounters, the text is witty and intelligent, and many times downright laugh-out-loud funny. Author Marc Kompaneyets, a Moscow native who came to California to study art in 1981, has truly created a fine first picture book that is a stand-out in a sea of children’s books that often look and sound the same.

The Squishiness of Things combines great storytelling, eye-catching illustrations and a theme that hopefully will instill a love for knowledge and the wonder of exploring the world around us in every child that reads it. Even adults will get a fresh jolt of the “curiosities” with this book, and might even set off in search of answers to their own questions – like, where do all those shoes on the side of the freeway come from?

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  Marie D. Jones/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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