Book review: Squashed, by Meaghan Tosi

A ghoulishly adorable graphic novel aimed at readers ages 6–12.

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Squashed cover photo

GOFFSTOWN, NH – Autumn is about life’s last chance to shine before winter brings dormancy. It’s about fallen leaves and gentle breezes, brownish-red hues and muddy shoes, and harvests of the last remaining hardy plants – including pumpkins. Squashed is mainly about pumpkins.

Squashed is an adorable tale. The graphic novel, created by Meaghan Tosi of Goffstown, NH, has artwork somewhere between The Nightmare Before Christmas and Adventure Time: spooky and cute. Like autumn itself, it provides warmth and entertainment, but still has a darker side that can give chills.

Squashed boy and pumpkin
Photo: Dooney Press

The novel relies almost totally on imagery to tell its narrative. The use of words is sparing, and is really a testament to how well the novel adapted its source material: a short story written in 2003 by Tosi’s father, Thomas Tosi.

At first, the story was only a vehicle to test out Thomas’s new digital camera, with the help of his family standing in as cast and crew, but it was translated into its current form after Meaghan grew into an accomplished artist. The cinematic feeling remains, and one can still imagine motion through the scenes even before watching the original home movie – which can be viewed on the Dooney Press website – but be sure to read the graphic novel first.

Squashed children
Photo: Dooney Press

In a sentence, Squashed is a pleasant slice-of-life from the perspective of two ordinary siblings in a woodsy town who slip through reality and enter a whimsical ghost story. The suspense is drawn out long enough to cause concern for the character’s wellbeing without going too far, which provides a very cozy thrill. It’s the perfect way to spend a half hour feeling nostalgic for Fall as the leaves just begin to turn.

The story is enjoyable without needing to focus on any moral lesson. Instead, it simply brings you along on the character’s amazing experience: fascination with a magical pumpkin, terror of the unknown, and a heart-warming conclusion.

Squashed girl and pumpkin
Photo: Dooney Press

Squashed is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound. For more information, visit the Dooney Press website.


 

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