Sunday, October 14, 2012
Ready for Pumpkins, written and illustrated by Kate Duke. Alfred A. Knopf, Random House. 2012. $19.99 ages 3 and up
Hercules loves his life. He spends his days in a grade one class where he is often the center of attention, and certainly a valued member of the classroom community. He knows that he is very lucky!
When he notices the bean plants that are being grown by the children, he determines that gardening might be the perfect pursuit for him. His stash of last year's seeds will certainly come in handy now! While being cared for over the summer, Hercules manages an escape and a chance to assuage his yen for planting. He has a surprise meeting with a rabbit named Daisy, who has much to teach about his new found pursuit. Patience is not his forte; he learns a lot from having to wait patiently for seeds to sprout and plants to grow:
"Waiting is hard.
Daisy helped me do it.
She told me stories about famous pumpkins
Together we made up pumpkin poems and songs about seeds."
As the plants begin to poke their beautiful stems and leaves above ground, Herky is delighted. The growth is worthy of a 'flower dance'. The growing of pumpkins is not without hazards and Kate Duke handles the setbacks with panache, making it a real learning experience for her audience. Before the pumpkins have fully grown and changed color, Herky is brought back to the classroom to meet a new group of first graders:
"And I had things just as good as pumpkins. I had pumpkin poems and stories and songs.
I had flower dances to practice.
At night I could dream pumpkin dreams."
With a bit of a lucky discovery at the farm, the story comes full circle. We know that Hercules will not forget what he has learned throughout his first gardening summer.
Halloween is just around the corner, and never do we see more pumpkins than at this time of year. This is a great story to share in early years classrooms, now and again in the spring. After all, what are going to do with all those seeds when you make jack-o-lanterns?