cover image Pumpkin Fiesta

Pumpkin Fiesta

Caryn Yacowitz. HarperCollins Publishers, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027658-4

A South-of-the-border setting only mildly spices up Yacowitz's (The Jade Stone) familiar plot; it's Cepeda's (Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey) saucy oil paintings that have real bite. Old Juana always wins the crown for the best pumpkins at the annual fiesta, but her envious neighbor, Foolish Fernando, is determined to wrest it from her. He surreptitiously watches her and copies her every move with the pumpkin crop, even dressing himself to look like her when he goes into his own field. Predictably, he misses the obvious--Juana's constancy; equally predictably, he ends up stealing Juana's best pumpkins. Cepeda wisely tones down the text's caricature of Fernando, making him more credible, less doltish and a little sympathetic to boot. The artist's festive palette and his use of vignettes as well as full- and double-page spreads syncopate the story; his energetic, slightly skewed characters will move readers from page to page. For those with whetted appetites, a recipe for pumpkin soup is included. Ages 3-6. (Aug.)