This week for kindergarten we’ve been having fun with pumpkins. All three of these books are great for learning about a plant life cycle. Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubell does this through a sweet story about a boy who carves a jack-o-lantern that he names Jack. He loves Jack so much he doesn’t throw him away when he starts to rot but instead puts him in the garden. The story then tells about how Jack becomes part of the ground and eventually a new pumpkin plant grows in the same spot. It’s Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall and Pumpkin Circle by George Levensen give the same information in a non-fiction style suited for preschoolers. Pumpkin Circle uses photographs of real pumpkins as illustrations which is a nice, unusual touch in a picture book.
In this book by Margaret McNamara, Charlie, the smallest boy in his class, learns that good things can come in small packages when his class compares the number of seeds in three pumpkins. It could be a lesson that felt heavy handed or cliched but it’s nicely done. Kids will get it but not feel like they were hit over the head with a moral. There is also a math component to this book with both estimating and skip counting being used by the kids. And I learned that you can guess how many seeds in a pumpkin by looking at the number of rows or lines on the outside of the shell.
In this book by Katie McKy, five brothers accidentally cause a town to be overrun with pumpkins. The brothers secretly come to the rescue one night and save the town and the thankful villagers repay them with a special gift. Its’ a simple story but well told and with a nice amount of humor. My boys both really liked this one.
This lovely book by Marsha Diane Arnold feels like a tall tale but is actually based on a true story. It tells the story of Joshua Summerhayes, a sheepherder who loves to run. When Joshua hears about a race from Melbourne to Sydney, he decides to enter. In the end he wins the race, beating all the much younger racers with special training routine and fancy clothes. The pumpkin is in the story because it’s what gives Joshua his energy so his Aunt Millie cooks up all his favorite pumpkin dishes before the race.
Interestingly, this book by David Ray has two reviews on Amazon. One gives it five star. One gives it one star. I wasn’t surprised by this as it is an odd book for a modern picture book. It feels very much like an old-fashioned fairy tale. It’s slightly disturbing and scary but has a dreamy quality that I liked. Angus is a young boy who loves pumpkins. He loves them so much that he spends every Halloween drawing pictures of jack-o-lanterns in a store window downtown. One Halloween he is late coming home and his parents are scared so he is sent to bed without eating his traditional Halloween pumpkin pie. He falls asleep and the next thing he knows he is in the kitchen eating the pie. Because of his disobedience he is then changed into a dog by a scarecrow and told he must stay a dog until one of his parents carves a jack-o-lantern out of a magic pumpkin hidden in their barn. Can you see what I mean about fairy tale?
In the end, all is well and the ending makes it fairly clear that the main part of the book was all a dream. However, it’s a book that could be scary for some kids so you might want to pre-read first.
This last book by Denys Cazet is another that is possibly scary. My kids though it was mostly funny. Mr. Wilkerson is a mean grumpy old man who dies one night before eating the pumpkin pie his wife has just made. A year later when Jack and his grandmother move into the old house, the grandmother makes a pumpkin pie on Halloween. The smell of the pie on the windowsill attracts Mr. Wilkerson’s ghost who demands:
Pumpkins,pumpkin, pumpkin pie!
I must have one before I die.
It must be round and brown as toast,
Or I’ll haunt this house a hungry ghost.
It must be perfect, or a ghost I’ll stay,
And haunt this house and never, ever go awaaaaaaaay!
The illustrations of the ghost are a little creepy and I think at first David was a little scared. But the grandmother is not at all scared and puts the ghost in his place over and over again. In the end they ended up giggling and finding it very funny.
Don’t forget to stop by Hope is the Word to see what others are reading with their kids.