cover image Pumpkins: A Story for a Field

Pumpkins: A Story for a Field

Mary Lyn Ray, M. L. Ray. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-252252-0

Human industriousness saves the day-and the land-in this ecological cautionary tale. When a man discovers that the beloved field across the way is for sale, he goes to great lengths to protect it from developers. When selling all his possessions fails to yield sufficient cash, the man plants a huge patch of pumpkins in the plot. The bountiful harvest enables him to purchase the field, and to keep it in its natural state. Ray's text puts forth a noble premise and a pleasing ending, but its logic makes a slight misstep when it ventures into the fantastic: the man decides to send the pumpkins-via truck, plane and magic carpet-all over the world for sale, rather than completing the transactions closer to home. The author's underlying sense of urgency effectively demonstrates the importance of conservation, and may even have a motivational effect on readers. Root's watereolor and gouache paintings emit a predominantly orange glow, and the expanse of the scenes clearly renders the field and its crop as the true stars here. The gentle play of light and shadow on the horizon lends a becoming sense of serenity. Even the Great Pumpkin himself would be pleased. All ages. (Sept.)