In this strong graphic treatment of a traditional theme, 10 Halloween pumpkins are spirited away or destroyed one by one by various seasonally appropriate, sometimes-scary entities: a scarecrow, a mummy, a bolt of lightning, a hungry ghost, alligators in a pond, pirates (“Arrr!”), an owl, a witch and a spider.
In a visual style reminiscent of 1950s horror tales, Savage creates a highly dramatic and sensational sequence using strong color contrasts, including, of course, Halloween orange and black. Homely scenes of country life—fields, clothes on a line, a spooky mansion, a stormy churchyard—and more exotic ones—a witch’s kitchen, pirate skeletons on a stormy ocean—are all rendered in a strong, airbrushed graphic style. While the overall mood is scary and grotesque, there are light touches in several features, including the cat that appears on every spread, the alligators that morph from rock look-alikes to snapping monsters that consume the pumpkin, the mummy who mummifies a pumpkin and the doughboy ghost who makes a pumpkin into pie. The simple rhymes of the countdown have a sweetly repetitive nursery-rhyme quality, and they will help to reassure children who may be a little apprehensive about Halloween, as well as aiding counting and subtraction skills.
Although the landscapes Savage creates are highly stylized, they have a softness and gentle humor that will capture the imaginations of young children and add to their anticipation. (Picture book. 3-5)