THE PUMPKIN MYSTERY

Scruffy the cat and Mocha the dog are interested and sometimes involved onlookers as Aden, Leah and their parents prepare and then tend their pumpkin patch with an eye toward Halloween festivities. They “help” dig, and then they work to keep the rabbits from eating the plants. But all is not well: There are far too few pumpkins. What’s happened? Surprisingly, it’s Louie the rabbit who clues in the family pets and helps them save Halloween—after making a deal, of course. This early reader does a lot: Readers will encounter cleverly planted homophones and a fair amount of gardening know-how in addition to the engaging characters and a genuinely perplexing mystery. Björkman’s line-and-watercolor cartoons ably assist in the character development and contribute to the book’s lighthearted feel. Here’s hoping for more of Scruffy and Mocha. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2219-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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THE UGLY PUMPKIN

A club-shaped pumpkin gets dissed by a customer, all the other pumpkins, even twisted apple trees, before the sight of a motley crop of hubbards, acorns and banana squash brings on a personal epiphany: “O my gosh / I’m a squash.” Endowed with a face and stick limbs, the gnarled narrator sits down at a Thanksgiving table with its new soulmates, then is last seen strolling down the lane hand in hand with a lumpy new friend. Written in doggerel—“A skeleton came for pumpkins / one bright and crispy day. / I asked if I could get a ride . . . / He laughed and said: No Way”—and illustrated in brightly colored paint-and-paper collage, this weak riff on the “Ugly Duckling” may not earn high marks for botanical accuracy (all pumpkins are squash), but it does feature plenty of visual flash. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-24267-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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