Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: That Squeak

Publish September 1, 2015

Carolyn Beck’s latest picture book, That Squeak, is a powerful exploration of grief and friendship. Joe and Jay spend summers riding their bikes down country roads, pedaling through fields, and stopping by creeks to skip stones. After a sudden accident takes Jay’s life, Joe is bereft. Jay’s bicycle, with its trademark “squeak” in the seat, stays chained to the school fence all winter, rusting outside, alone in the elements. Working through his loss, Joe is determined to restore the forgotten bike in his friend’s memory. A new classmate, Carlos, offers to help, but nasty swirls of gossip taint Joe’s first impressions. However, as they get to know each other, they realize they are bound by a shared sorrow. François Thisdale’s award-winning artwork is multi-layered and atmospheric. There are many striking and haunting images, such as two eyes appearing in the rain clouds, gazing out above starkly silhouetted trees and lonely figures. Joe’s unabashed, first-person narration directly addresses his deceased friend. With poetic immediacy, readers are privy to Joe’s anguish as it spills over in sentences such as, “Inside my ribs, big aching sobs suck and heave like tidal waves.”  That Squeak tackles complex issues with an authentic voice that won’t soon be forgotten.  

That Squeak

Carolyn Beck
Illustration EN: François Thisdale
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
ISBN 13: 978-1-55455-293-1

Linda Ludke
Linda Ludke

Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library.  Her reviews have appeared in Quill and QuireSchool Library Journal and CM:  Canadian Review of Materials.  When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.

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