Prather’s Pick: Pumpkins galore
It’s a tradition to reflect on our blessings during the Thanksgiving holiday. Jose and his family, characters in this week’s picture book for children, are undoubtedly thankful for their pumpkin harvest. The townspeople probably are, too, even though they never even planted pumpkins. “Pumpkin Town (Or, Nothing is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins)” was written by Katie McKy and illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi. The book was published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2006.
Each year Jose’s family plants a field with pumpkin seeds, and when the seeds sprout and the vines start to grow, there are vines growing “every which way.” There are small, flat and tall pumpkins on the vines. The Jack-Be-Little pumpkins are small enough to fit in pockets (these are my favorite pumpkins); the Happy Jacks are bigger so that it takes a boy to carry one; and the Big Moons are real big — even five boys can’t roll them.
In the fall, the family cuts the vines and gathers up the pumpkins. They load two trucks full of pumpkins and send them off to cities where the pumpkins are used for making pies and for carving. But first, the family chooses some of the best pumpkins for the seeds. Jose and his brothers hollow out these pumpkins and sort out the seeds, saving the largest and brightest seeds for next year’s planting. The smallest and dullest seeds are taken back to the edge of the field and tossed out.
One October, as they’re tossing out the dull and small seeds, a wind comes up. The brothers don’t notice that the seeds blow down the hill to a town below. The seeds settle down everywhere, even in flowerpots and straw. One would think that is the end of it, but come spring the seeds start to sprout.
When the vines start to grow, they’re everywhere. Things get quite out of hand. The vines wind from the window of one house right through the window of another and even run down chimneys and then out through doors. Some vines wind around trees and lamp posts. And, even worse, imagine what happens when the pumpkins start to grow. The Big Moon pumpkins are big enough to do roof damage. They do damage to fences, and there are so many pumpkins that people can’t walk around town. Pretty soon the people are fed up.
Now, Jose’s family doesn’t know what’s going on in town — not until they have harvested all of their pumpkins. Then they look down at the town below. Everything is orange. Then the brothers remember scattering the seeds that day when it was windy. They want to do something to help the townspeople. So after dark, the brothers go into town and begin cutting vines and gathering up pumpkins. At the end of the night there’s a mountain of pumpkins and five mighty tired brothers.
But this story isn’t over — not by a long shot. You won’t believe what happens next.
This is a funny story to share with children, especially if you like pumpkins (as I do). The artwork for the illustrations is unusual. It’s done in collaged original art and found objects. Some of it, such as the pumpkin leaves, clothing, and even some pumpkins, appears to be taken from photographs. You’ll have to see the artwork to appreciate it.
This is an older book (2006) so you may find it in softcover. The hardcover book costs $16. You can also find the book in the children’s room at the Moffat County Library. Happy Thanksgiving!