In rhyming verse, readers learn about a field trip to a pumpkin patch that goes horribly wrong; on the way home, the pumpkins fall out of the storage bins on the bus. The kids are disappointed and then surprised by how the people of the town help them get their pumpkins back. Autumnal hues in the color palette support the story perfectly, showing a diverse population that is happily collectively problem-solving. The pictures are detailed enough to encourage one-on-one sharing but large enough for story hours. The text has a catchy beat, with some unusual vocabulary sprinkled in to help with language skills. This story would be an excellent choice to add to a fall unit of study or to pair with a nonfiction look at harvests and fall festivals. VERDICT An entertaining story with exciting surprises along the way, this is a strong addition to most collections.
—School Library Journal
Let’s hear it for smashed pumpkins!
Excitement’s running high when students take a field trip to a pumpkin patch. Each child will pick a pumpkin, then return to school and decorate it. The trip is filled with cheery anticipation; the pumpkin patch offers many choices. On the ride back, however, the latches on the bus’s exterior storage bins loosen, and, unbeknownst to riders, the gathered gourds roll out onto streets, lawns, and everywhere; most are ruined. All’s not lost, however. Residents witness the fiasco and devise a plan to save the day. Back at school, the kids and teachers finally realize what happened and observe that only the enormous pumpkin strapped to the bus’s roof survived. Students collaborate to decorate it. But the best is yet to come. The kindly neighbors turn up with a bounty of treats they prepared from the salvaged pumpkin bits. This sweet, upbeat charmer’s bouncy rhymes roll along merrily and are thus nicely suited to the story’s theme—and satisfying conclusion: If life hands you smashed pumpkins, turn them into pumpkin pie, cake, cookies, etc. Illustrations are lively, childlike, and suffused with bright shades of autumnal orange. Both kids and adults are racially diverse; some children and adults wear glasses. A pumpkin cookie recipe appears in the backmatter.
A jolly story that readers can appreciate during the Halloween and harvest seasons.
A class field trip to the local pumpkin patch has an unexpected—and tasty—ending in this seasonal romp. Once their bus unloads at a farm, “Students run and point and call./ It’s turned into a free-for-all!” Their carefully selected squashes loaded into the bus’s lower storage bins, the excited children scamper on board for the bouncy ride back to school, visions of jack-o’-lanterns in their heads. But unbeknownst to the passengers, “latches holding hatches tight/ were almost fastened,/ but not quite,” leaving the prized pumpkins crash-landed in a quiet cul-de-sac. Bewildered but undaunted, kids and teachers jointly decorate the lone large remaining pumpkin and take it to the harvest fair, where the mystery of their disappearing pumpkins is solved in delicious fashion. Coleman employs a spectrum of evocative autumn colors in cheerful illustrations, and Bateman’s jaunty rhymes help convey the crisp air of a festive fall day.