ready for pumpkins

Ready for Pumpkins by Kate Duke

Hercules, or Herky for short, learned a lot being the classroom guinea pig in Miss MacGuffey’s first grade.  He learned to paint, he learned about Halloween, but best of all, he learned that he could plant a garden from seeds.  And Herky had seeds from the Halloween pumpkin that he had saved in his cage.  So when he was taken for the summer out to the country, he knew he just had to plant his own garden.  He met Daisy, a rabbit, who helped him find a sunny place to plant the seeds.  Herky dug up the dirt, planted the seeds, and watered them.  But then he had to be patient as they grew, and that was the hardest part!  The plants grew, flowers appeared, and finally pumpkins.  But Herky had to return to school before they turned orange!  Will he ever know how his pumpkins turned out?

This is a charming mix of classroom pet story and gardening.  Duke makes Herky quite a character.  He’s impatient to the point of digging up the seeds to see what is happening, angry when the birds and beetles attack his garden, and yet he is also hard working enough to make a garden in the first place.  The writing is simple and reads aloud easily, making this a good book to share with a fall class.

Duke’s art is full of simple lines and bright colors.  As the garden grows, she shows the wild beauty of the pumpkin vines, their many flowers and the slow process of pumpkins growing to maturity.  Daisy and Herky are engagingly drawn little creatures whose growing friendship mirrors that of the garden.

A great pick for pumpkin season or as an addition to spring growing books too.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.