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Squashed in the Middle

Squashed in the Middle

by Elizabeth Winthrop, Pat Cummings (Illustrator)

"I'm going to spend the night at Rosa's house," said Daisy. But nobody heard her.

Being a middle child isn't easy

Nobody ever listens to Daisy. Her father was chopping carrots. Her mother was talking on the phone. Her big sister was chasing her little brother around and around the kitchen table. So it was no surprise that no one heard where Daisy


"I'm going to spend the night at Rosa's house," said Daisy. But nobody heard her.

Being a middle child isn't easy

Nobody ever listens to Daisy. Her father was chopping carrots. Her mother was talking on the phone. Her big sister was chasing her little brother around and around the kitchen table. So it was no surprise that no one heard where Daisy went, even though she told them.

With humorous text and striking, bold illustrations, this book captures the frustration of a middle child trying to be heard over the noise of a well-meaning family.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
The emotional vividness and ultra-contemporary vibe of Cummings's (Angel Baby) mixed-media paintings make this an especially sympathetic treatment of middle-child angst. Daisy not only feels "squashed right in the middle of her noisy family," but also unheard. As Winthrop (Dumpy La Rue) eloquently puts it, her parents and siblings "talked to Daisy, they talked about Daisy and they talked right over Daisy's head. But when Daisy talked, nobody ever listened." When the family tries to put the kibosh on Daisy's first sleepover at a friend's house (" `She'll come home in the middle of the night,' said her sister in her big-know-it-all voice"), Daisy goes anyway-then stands her ground when everyone shows up at her friend's door. The family wisely heeds the lesson in this incident, and each gives Daisy his or her full attention the next morning when she regales them with stories of snacking and staying up late. Cummings frequently brings readers nose to nose with the action or makes it seem as if her richly rendered characters are bumping up against the edges of the page; she thus underscores the oppressiveness Daisy experiences within her family while also conveying the tightness of the bond she shares with Rosa, her supportive sleepover pal. Although the plot resolution may be familiar, it still feels piquant, and may well strike a chord with many readers-regardless of their birth order. Ages 5-9. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2

Middle child Daisy believes that nobody in her African-American family ever listens to her in this picture book (HarperCollins, 1995) by Elizabeth Winthrop. When Daisy pleads to be allowed to have a sleepover at her friend Rosa's house, her mother and sister come up with reasons why it's a bad idea, but nobody listens when Daisy says that she is going anyway. When Daisy's family finally realizes that she is gone, they rush to Rosa's house to find her. Their reunion finally gives Daisy a chance to express her frustration at being ignored. Pat Cummings's bright, bold, mixed-media illustrations reflect the emotions of the characters. Robin Miles's narration and a lively, beat-driven tune in the background evokes the family's energy. A sad saxophone underscores Daisy's laments, and clever sound effects enhance the narration. Page-turn signals are optional. A good choice for emerging readers.-Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, Northside Branch, KY

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Middle children will easily identify with Daisy, who has a know-it-all older sister and a pesky younger brother. Everyone in her African-American family speaks for her. When she tries to speak for herself, no one listens. The breaking point comes when her friend invites her to a sleepover. Mother says that Daisy has never slept at someone's house, and her sister insists she will come home in the middle of the night. Daisy announces that she is going to Rosa's anyway, but no one hears. When the family finally goes in search of her, they discover a Daisy they never knew. The text is brief, extended by the details and facial expressions in the mixed-media, double-page illustrations. In the first spread, Cummings offers an arresting close-up of Daisy, her face split down the middle by the book's gutter, hair flying across both pages, hands up to her head in a gesture of hopelessness. Her family cavorts on either side. The contrast between that picture, on a blue background, and the last one, when "for the first time, everybody listened [to Daisy]," is marvelous. Here she is depicted on a yellow ground, is once again in the middle, her hands are again up, but her expression is one of delight. Pair this engaging read-aloud with Brigitte Weninger's Davy in the Middle (North-South, 2004).-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An ignored middle child takes matters into her own hands and teaches her family how to listen in this humorous domestic drama. Daisy has a dilemma: Her mother, father, older sister and younger brother are so busy talking "to" Daisy, "about" Daisy, or "over" Daisy's head that no one pays attention to what she says. Daisy is definitely "squashed in the middle" of her very noisy family. She tries to tell everyone she is going to sleep overnight with her new friend Rosa, but no one hears her. So Daisy packs her nightgown, toothbrush and stuffed duck and leaves. When her family arrives en masse at Rosa's house to retrieve her, Daisy finally finds her voice and gets the attention she deserves. Bright, sassy illustrations in a mixed media of watercolor, gouache, colored pencil and pastels successfully showcase Daisy's frustration, irritation and eventual triumph. Sure to hit the mark with the middle child in everyone. (Picture book. 5-9)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
10.02(w) x 8.18(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Winthrop, a middle child herself, has written more than fifty books for readers of all ages. These include her award-winning picture book Dumpy La Rue (a New York Times Best Illustrated Book), illustrated by Betsy Lewin, and Dog Show, illustrated by Mark Ulriksen.

Pat Cummings is the illustrator of more than thirty picture books, many of which she has written herself. She is a Coretta Scott King Award winner, whose books include Ananse and the Lizard and Angel Baby. Ms. Cummings teaches at Parson's School of Design and lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Visit Elizabeth Winthrop at her website: www.elizabethwinthrop.com

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