A seed can’t wait to become a Halloween pumpkin in this debut children’s picture book.
Pumpker is a pumpkin seed with two sisters, Plumpalicious and Plumpilina. He feels like the odd seed out because he’s the only boy; also, his name means “weirdo” in their secret language. After he’s planted by “Old Mr. Smith’s wife” (why not “Mrs. Smith” initially?), he longs to escape the darkness, grow up, and be loved. As Halloween approaches, his excitement builds, and when he and his pumpkin sisters are finally picked by a little girl, he sheds tears of joy. After they’re carved into frightening shapes (“I guess I’m not the only weirdo in the family now,” he comments slyly), Pumpker glows with happiness (and candlelight). Murphy, who wrote this story in the fifth grade, requires that readers suspend a lot of disbelief for her anthropomorphic narrator: Why, for example, would a seed formed inside a pumpkin feel trapped underground? And how does he live after being cut from the vine? That said, Murphy describes Pumpker’s emotions clearly, makes him sympathetic, and conveys his sense of fulfillment. Pérez’s (Escuelita Sinfonía, 2018) well-done illustrations have a lively angularity that works well with a pumpkin’s carved features.
This tale’s concept is a bit shaky, but readers may enjoy seeing a seed’s dream come true.