Stumpkin

Lucy Ruth Cummins. Atheneum, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1362-7
Stumpkin is a beautiful pumpkin, “as orange as... an orange! As big as a basketball! Round!” All he lacks is a stem—but people want stems on their Halloween jack-o’-lanterns. Cummins (A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals) paints Stumpkin looking concerned as, one by one, the other pumpkins are bought, carved, and displayed in apartment windows facing the store. Even the warty gourd gets bought. Stumpkin’s philosophical attitude softens the sting (“ ‘The gourd??’ thought Stumpkin, ‘I guess that’s that’ ”), and the portrayal of buyers as silhouettes helps, too—readers don’t see the customers’ faces or hear what they say. Stories about being left behind usually include just enough distress to set the stage, but here the ordeal continues for many pages, heightening the story’s stakes as Halloween looms large. Amid the black-stroked subway signs and storefronts of a cozy Brooklyn block, Stumpkin survives his ordeal, and a final, brilliantly inventive visual sequence reveals what it’s like to be a jack-o’-lantern from the inside out. Ages 4–8. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2018
Release date: 07/24/2018
Audio Product - 978-1-5344-1363-4
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