cover image The Pumpkin Fair

The Pumpkin Fair

Eve Bunting. Clarion Books, $15 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-395-70060-0

""There's even gooey party stew/ (I'll try them all, except the stew./ It's icky-looking, gross, pew-yew!)""--Bunting's (Smoky Night) rhymes typically project an authentic voice, and this time the voice belongs to a gangly girl who visits her village's annual Pumpkin Fair. Accompanied by her parents and a sibling dressed in a bunny suit, the girl admires the Pumpkin Princess, enters a pumpkin-seed spitting contest (""Pucker up and let 'em fly!/ Spit 'em far and spit 'em high!"") and tastes pumpkin cooked every which way, including the aforementioned stew. Christelow (the Five Little Monkeys series) partners Bunting's text with flavorsome cartoons. Exuding a mild sense of humor and much affection, they capture both the excitement and goofiness of the small-town event. But Bunting has something more important in mind than just a fun outing. Everywhere her heroine goes, she cuddles a pumpkin that she has grown from a seed. It's small and bumpy, she admits, but, ""I tell her that it's still OK./ She's very special in her way."" Her steadfast affection is rewarded at the end, when she wins the prize for ""best-loved pumpkin at the fair/ The best-loved pumpkin anywhere!"" This lightly proffered moral, along with Bunting's effortlessly idiomatic verse, makes for a sweet seasonal tale. Ages 3-6. (Aug.)