Fear the Amoeba: 07/20/15
Fear the Amoeba by Jennifer L. Holm is the sixth book in the Squish series. The new hot horror movie is out and Squish doesn't want to be left out. There's just one problem: he's afraid of scary movies!
Holm's graphic novels seem really obsessed with peer pressure. Sure, it's a thing. And sure some kids are pressured into doing things they otherwise wouldn't want to do, or are bullied for not wanting to participate. But making book after book based on peer pressure gags and lessons gets repetitive, less effective a message, and frankly, dull!
In the case of the horror movie — which features a water-bear — there's the problem of all these elementary school aged children going to a horror movie unsupervised. Perhaps in the petri dish that is Squish's universe there isn't a movie ratings system, but in the world where the children will be reading it, there is. The tamest of horror films are rated PG-13 and the most violent ones are rated R. Given that the water-bear movie appears to be in the Aliens ilk, I'd suspect it would have an R rating. So where are the adults? How has this horror film of all things become the new big hit of Squish's elementary (or possibly middle school)?
I'm not saying that children don't (or shouldn't) watch horror films, but it's not something that usually done en masse in a first run theater without any parents. Horror films and children are usually brought together with slumber parties or late night cable (or now Netflix) watching.
So ultimately what sets me off this book isn't Squish being afraid of horror movies or even being dismayed at their sudden popularity, it's the unrealistic set up for this morality play. And so often with the Babymouse and Squish books, it's the situation that causes the most trouble. These set ups are poorly thought out, leaving many missed opportunities for relatable conflict and humor.