One thing you can say about Pumpkintown: Everyone has squash for brains. Young Pumpkinhead, who lives in Pumpkintown with all the other pumpkinheads, gets to wondering: “Does everyone in the world have a pumpkin head?” All of the townsfolk figure that’s probably the case, but then no one in town has ever been outside of town. All except Pumpkinhead’s mother, who, by telling Pumpkinhead that the answer to that question is a mystery, sets the lad on his quest of discovery. He takes to the road to learn the truth. That first night, so as not to lose his way in the morning, he removes his head before he goes to sleep and points it in the direction he wants to go when he wakes. Two mischievous squirrels overhear Pumpkinhead talking to himself about this stratagem and when he falls asleep, they give his head a half turn. When Pumpkinhead takes off in the morning, he’s heading home, though he doesn’t know it, and sure enough he comes upon a town like Pumpkintown, just like Pumpkintown. After talking with the townsfolk, who assure him that they are all pumpkinheads (his parents included, since they don’t recognize him), he heads back the way he came to tell his neighbors the news. He bunks under the same tree he had the night before, gets the same treatment from the squirrels, and winds up back home, yet again, with news of a world full of pumpkinheads. Bright with folly and tomfoolery, Kimmel’s tale has universal application and is ideally depicted by Haskamp’s crew of amiably clownish pumpkinheads. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-33-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001


A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996


Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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