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Kitchen Table Reviews: The Bumpy Little Pumpkin

It's not Halloween yet, but this book has gotten the family in the mood for Fall.

By Mir Kamin | October 9 , 2009
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<i>The Bumpy Little Pumpkin</i> by Margery Cuyler
The Bumpy Little Pumpkin by Margery Cuyler

Halloween’s coming up, and although I love a good book about monsters and goblins as much as the next mom, I found myself enchanted with the cover image of a little girl kneeling over a misshapen pumpkin. I had to find out how the story went… and if it would appeal to the kids or just strike them as sappy.

Me: Happy Halloween!

Son: It’s not Halloween yet.

Me: I know. I was just hoping this would get us in the mood. Did it?

Son: Sort of, I guess.

Daughter: This book is good for all of Fall, I think. Not just Halloween.

Me: So who can give me a summary of what happens?

Son: Little Nell is really little and her sisters and mom are really big. And they go to pick the perfect pumpkins, and her tall sister chooses a tall pumpkin and her fat sister chooses a big round pumpkin, and Little Nell wants a bumpy little pumpkin and they make fun of her. But it works out in the end.

Me: Wait, does that mean Little Nell is bumpy?

Son: Just small, I think.

Daughter: Well, her sweater is kind of bumpy.

Me: I liked the illustrations, but I couldn’t tell if Little Nell just saw her family as being so big or if she was supposed to be a little person. She’s kind of miniature compared to the rest of them.

Daughter: I think we’re seeing how she views them. Which is kind of cool. Also, I like the wild and crazy hair everyone has! That was funny.

Son: There is a lot of crazy hair.

Me: Okay, what was your favorite part?

Daughter: I liked how the birds came and helped her carve the face in her pumpkin.

Son: I liked how the reindeer scooped the pumpkin out for her.

Me: So it wasn’t weird that a bunch of animals came and helped her?

Daughter: No, she was kind of fairy-tale-magical, a little bit. It made sense.

Me: I liked how the message was that all different shapes and sizes are beautiful, but it was still a nice little Halloween story, not just a hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-moral kind of a thing.

Son: Yeah, but, for Halloween it should be at least a little scary! And the jack-o-lanterns they make aren’t scary at all. That would be the only thing I didn’t like.

Daughter: Also, is it okay that they just leave her in the pumpkin patch by herself? That seems like child services would get called, or something.

Me: Okay! Well! I thought this was a sweet little book.

Son: Me too!

Daughter: Okay, fine.

Pros: Halloween-ish, but a great message of inclusion/acceptance for any time of year. Little Nell seems vaguely magical. Helpful woodland friends are always fun.

Cons: Little Nell’s family just leaves her in the pumpkin patch. Bad hair days. The jack-o-lanterns at the end of the book aren’t very scary.

The Bumpy Little Pumpkin gets three thumbs up and a recommendation to be enjoyed with hot cider from our kitchen table.

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