A picture book about a pumpkin who overcomes his fears.
Kendall’s debut children’s tale follows the life span of a pumpkin named Pete. After he’s planted by an unnamed boy, Pete grows and develops over the course of a summer. His friends include other pumpkins in the patch, as well as watermelons across the way, although his relationship with a melon named Walter gets off to a rocky start. Pete notices similarities between the pumpkins and the watermelons, but Walter is quick to point out how different they are. Walter tells Pete that pumpkins eventually get carved up and left outside, which plants fears in the young pumpkin’s mind. In a dream, he meets a wise old pumpkin who explains Halloween to him; he also dreams about a great battle between the pumpkins and the watermelons. Later, Pete realizes that pumpkins and watermelons can still be friends in the real world, despite their differences, although he still has lingering apprehension about the coming harvest. He then learns that people eat watermelons and that the melons accept this because it’s their purpose to nourish people. As a result, he begins to feel differently about being harvested himself. Full-color illustrations effectively depict the pumpkins and watermelons, as well as the farming family, in a modern folk-art style. This relatively long book may be a bit too wordy for younger listeners, but it may be a good read-aloud for elementary-age children. Some advanced concepts, such as “collective knowledge” and “sit-in,” and words like “initially,” may require some adult explanation. Overall, the book’s themes lend themselves to discussions about agriculture and about how people rely on plants and animals for nourishment and survival. The plot does meander a bit, however, due in part to clunky sentences such as, “After the heavy rain and then the sunshine, and while thinking about his dreams, Pete grew more than he had on any other day.”
A thought-provoking, if somewhat choppily executed, kids’ book.