cover image Ready for Pumpkins

Ready for Pumpkins

Kate Duke. Knopf, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-87068-2

Guinea pigs are something of a specialty for Duke (The Guinea Pig ABC; One Guinea Pig Is Not Enough), and her newest one, Hercules, is a real charmer (“You can call me Herky!” he announces in a speech bubble on the opening page). While most classroom guinea pig stories take place during the school year, Duke is more interested in Herky’s extracurricular hobby: growing pumpkins. On “vacation” in the country (a student’s parent’s farm) over the summer, Herky enlists the help of a rabbit named Daisy in putting together a pumpkin patch (never mind that Daisy’s idea of help is to munch leaves and say, “Good job!”). Duke’s story brims with humor of both the classroom and animal-buddy varieties, and her featherlight paintings capture every ounce of Herky’s enthusiasm, impatience, and eventual satisfaction. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)