Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Pumpkin Plant That Amost Ate Our School - a review

The Pumpkin Plant That Almost Ate Our School
Author:  Fred Williamson
Illustrator:  Chris Congleton
Calligraphy:  Lloyd King, Rachel Petersen

We don't really read "Halloween" books in our house, so at first glance, I would normally pass on this book.  It looks scary, and that's something we try to avoid.  However, I have been looking to expand our personal autumn themed book collection, so after reading the description about a teacher who wanted the gardener to plant a pumpkin for her students, and how the vine started growing like crazy, I decided to give it a try.

I'm glad I did.  The book is not about Halloween at all; it is a cute poem about a pumpkin vine that simply grows out of control.  The illustrations are full of bright colors, are childish and fun, and the "scary" pumpkin is in the storyteller's imagination only; when the pumpkin finally makes an appearance, it's a fun surprise!

Before we read the book, Iron Man saw it laying out, so when I gave him a laminated pumpkin to draw faces on, this is what he came up with.  He told me he was trying to make a scary pumpkin face like the book.  Having pre-read the book, I knew it wasn't going to be scary for him, so I wasn't concerned.
(I made laminated pumpkins for the boys after reading this post at Little Family Fun.)

I think the age recommendation of 4-8 is appropriate, as both of my boys were engaged in the book.  Iron Man really enjoyed the story line, and I later heard him talking about the size of pumpkins and pumpkins seeds with daddy.  I think Hulk liked the general flow of the poem...he was trying to "read" along with me.

The things I didn't like as a parent:
--The calligraphy is pretty, but I am inclined to think that beginning readers might have difficulty with it.
--There was a blank page in the middle of the book, where in other page spreads there was an illustration.  Even my 4 year old almost blurted out about it, but I don't think he wanted to interrupt the reading.
--There were a few punctuation issues that stood out to me.  While I know my grammar is far from perfect, I think my concern comes again from the fact that it might be confusing for beginning readers.

Overall, we enjoyed the book, and have read it a couple of times since receiving it.  It is one that will go into our fall rotation as a read-aloud for the preschool/early years.

**I was provided with a complimentary copy of The Pumpkin Plant That Almost Ate Our School by Fred Williamson as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team in exchange for my honest review.  Visit the Dorrance Bookstore to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

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