Friday, October 30, 2020

A Really Rotten Halloween Story

Rotten Pumpkin 
by David Schwartz; photos by Dwight Kuhn
32 pages; ages 3-5
Creston Books, 2013

theme: Halloween, nature, STEM

Here I stand, bright with light, proud and round. 

This is a tale of the demise of a Halloween pumpkin. Jack, the pumpkin, is the first of 15 voices to tell the tale. He begins with his glory days, as a bright Jack-o-lantern. But once that flame is spent, he’s tossed unceremoniously back to the garden.

From there, various animals – and fungi – take over the tale. A mouse, squirrel, and slugs tell how they nibble, gnaw, and scrape the pumpkin shell. Insects and mold continue their cheerful tale of how they do in the rotting pumpkin.

But not everything rots away. A single seed survives and, covered with soil enriched by the rotted goo, sprouts. 

What I like about this book: The photos that document Jack’s decomposition are amazing to look at. Dwight Kuhn helps readers see beauty where others might just see a moldy mess. And David’s use of the different voices to tell the story allows us to think about nature in a different way. There’s also Back Matter! A glossary and three investigations that a curious nature lover might want to do with their past-prime Jack-o-lantern.

Beyond the Books:

If you forgot a seed or two when scooping out the gloppity gloop from the middle of your pumpkin, now’s a good time to rescue them. Rinse them off, let them dry, and then put them in an envelope. If you know what variety of pumpkin you have, write that on the envelope. Otherwise “pumpkin 2020” will do. Next spring, plant them and see what comes up.

Write a letter to – or from – your pumpkin about it’s very short life. Feel free to pull in some local animals to tell their side of the story.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. What a brilliant idea for a picture book to show the circle of life in this way. But I have to say that the cover image gives me shudder, LOL.

  2. This sounds great. I am going to have to check this one out. It's a terrific concept.