Thursday, 18 September 2014

Squishy McFluff - Supermarket Sweep by Pip Jones and Ella Okstad (Faber and Faber)

Squishy McFluff - Supermarket Sweep

Written by Pip Jones

Illustrated by Ella Okstad

Published by Faber and Faber

Kids are naturally drawn to characters in books who - to put no finer point on it - get away with being very VERY naughty indeed! Vicariously, kids love 'living' a character that can do as they please, particularly when they take a child in the story along for the ride.

We've seen this as one of the key factors that pirate books are so successful. Pirates run around all day nabbing treasure, drinking (non alcoholic) vegetable drinks and generally getting up to no good.

We have been delighted by the exploits of Squishy McFluff and his 'innocent' owner Ava. Whenever Squishy is around, chaos ensues and Ava haplessly stands by as events unfold. Of course, parents knowingly nod and wink at these brilliant stories, identifying the very factor that Pip and Ella have observed so well.

But the factor is the root of the first question Charlotte asked about Squishy McFluff. "Is he real, daddy?" - and there you have to pause as a dutiful parent, wink, and say "What do you think?"

"Squishy McFluff - Supermarket Sweep" is the second outing for the daring and mischievous invisible cat (do check out our review of "Squishy McFluff The Invisible Cat" from earlier in the year). Ava and Squishy are having fun in the garden until Mum drops a bombshell. It's time to visit the supermarket, AGHHHH!

Now, at this point in the story we smiled a little as we know only too well what a supermarket trip means with Charlotte in tow. When we could pop her into a trolley it wasn't so bad, but now she insists on steering the trolley (into everything and anyone who gets in the way) and that's even before we start hunting for things to feed her with!

Pip and Ella have perfectly reproduced shopping hell. Ava thinks she's managed to wriggle out of the trip by feigning a mystery illness for Squishy, but Mum seizes on this opportunity to ask Ava to leave Squishy tucked up at home, hopefully heading off any potential supermarket shenanigans before Squishy and Ava have a chance to hatch any plans.

Loading Ava into the car, Mum doesn't realise that Squishy the Invisible and not-really-ill-at-all cat has sneaked in too, and it doesn't take long for Ava and Squishy to render the car immobile by flicking all the switches and pressing all the buttons.

A few (seething) hours later, poor mum manages to get the plans back on track and off to the supermarket they go. Surely Ava and Squishy will have worn themselves out a little. Perhaps not, as true chaos unfolds amongst the stacked tins and vegetable racks as Ava and Squishy have their very own ideas about what should go in the trolley. Out with the health foods, in with the ring donuts, lollipops and sherbet dippers! YAY!

We'll leave the story there, because you're going to love the rest and we don't want to spoil it for you. We think Ava's exasperated mum deserves a medal (or at least the phone number of an invisible cat neutering service!) and though we normally love cats very much, we're definitely not sure we'd ever give Squishy house room. There's huge potential for more books in this fabulous series (hint hint Pip and Ella) and Charlotte absolutely could not get enough of Squishy and Ava's misbehaviours (hey that almost rhymes, whoah!)

As rip-snortingly brilliant as the first book and we truly can't wait for more! Lovely work Pip and Ella!

Charlotte's best bit: She loves Squishy, which is worrying because I'm really not sure we could find house room for such a naughty invisible pet!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Chock full of subversive snort-inducing behaviour from Squishy and Ava, with so many things that'll make parents wryly nod in agreement (and probably grin a lot too!) We love Squishy, come back soon!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Faber and Faber)