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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ten Orange Pumpkins, written and illustrated by Stephen Savage. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2013. $18.00 ages 3 and up

"Nine orange pumpkins
sit outside the gate.
Which one will the mummy


There are 8."

I don't have a lot of Halloween books for you, but I surely want to tell you about Stephen Savage's new book. Each of his others are well-loved and pored over. This one will be no different.

The graphic art will attract even the youngest reader with its bold color and appealing characters...all reminding kids of one of their favorite days of the year. The well chosen elements catch our attention on the title page. A silhouetted farmyard with barn, fence, truck, ladder, shrubs and the ten orange and glowing pumpkins. Now, that is an invitation if I have ever seen one. No little one is going to be able to resist seeing what happens.

The ten freshly picked pumpkins are placed beside the steps on the first page. We are also privy to a black cat, clothing on the line and a hat leaning on a fencepost. What might a child predict is going to happen? If they guessed one of the pumpkins would be missing, they are right! A scarecrow now holds pride of place beside the fence while the black cat looks on. Where do you think he found his smiling jack-o-lantern face?

The next row of pumpkins we see are sitting outside a closed gate, a mummy advancing, arms outstretched and perhaps a tad scary. On we go counting down until only one is left...the perfect welcome for wee trick or treaters on a dark, starry Halloween night!

The  mood is dramatic (definitely Halloweenesque,) and also quite comforting as young readers will recognize the familiar images chosen for these often humorous pages. There is much to discover at each page turn. The rhythmic text is easy to follow and will soon be chanted by little ones as they count down from ten to one.

Keep your eye on the black cat!

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