Review: Rotten Pumpkin by David M. Schwartz

rotten pumpkin

Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz, photos by Dwight Kuhn

A dynamic mix of story and nonfiction, this book follows the life of a pumpkin.  He has his shining moment as a jack-o-lantern lit for Halloween, but then is put into the compost.  That is where the story gets interesting.  First he is chewed on by mice, squirrels, slugs and vomited on by flies.  Now he looks a lot different and has fungi growing.  The various molds introduce themselves, explaining what they do, including the fascinating Penicillium.  Sow bugs, earthworms, slime mold and yeast work on the pumpkin too.  It is left as just a pile of seeds and little else.  Until spring arrives!

Schwartz shows readers just how fascinating science is with his in-depth descriptions of the decomposition process.  Children will adore the explanation of how flies taste and eat, the process of earthworm poop, and all of the molds seen up close.  But this book goes far beyond the gross and takes the reader right through the entire process, detailing it with interesting moments throughout. 

The photographs by Kuhn are particularly useful in a book like this.  Capturing the changing face of the pumpkin as it molds over adds real interest visually to the title.  At the same time, the close up images of yeasts and slime mold are grossly gripping.

Perfect for autumn and Halloween, this book will have kids looking at their slumping pumpkins with new eyes.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

One thought on “Review: Rotten Pumpkin by David M. Schwartz

  1. Glad you found the book as rotten as I intended it to be! (I am the author.). I would love to hear from teachers or classes that do investigations of decomposition based on this book. A few are described at the back of the book, and others are on the Creston Books website. (There is also a readers’ theatre script on that site.) I can be contacted through my website,


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