Big Pumpkin

written by Erica Silverman
illustrated by S.D. Schindler

Erica Silverman's Big Pumpkin
illustrated by S.D. Schindler

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow

Ages 4-8

Helpful ghosts and mummies!

I was checking out a Halloween display at the bookstore recently, when I came across Erica Silverman’s Big Pumpkin.

I’m not sure that I could have told you anything about this book a week ago, but as soon as I saw the large orange pumpkin on the cover, I remembered that I had read it in elementary school.

The funny thing was, I remembered being both fascinated and disappointed in it, but again, I couldn’t have told you what it was about.

Of course, I had to pick it up and read it again.

Big Pumpkin is a simple tale of a witch who just wants to make pumpkin pie, but the pumpkin she planted is too big for her to pull off the vine herself. Review continues.

collaged images from Big Pumpkin

A series of Halloween characters (ranging from a ghost to a mummy) show up and try to help her, but to no avail.

Finally, a small bat comes along. He, of course, has an idea. Why don’t they all work together to pull the pumpkin off the vine?

In the end, teamwork is a success, and everyone gathers at the witch’s house to eat pumpkin pie.

Ah! Now I remembered.

I had been disappointed by the ending of Big Pumpkin as a child: at the time, I thought it was too simple. In retrospect, however, I was really just too old for pictures books when my teacher shared this book with my class.

(I think I was about nine before the book was even released.)

In fact, this is an excellent tale for younger children, containing lots of fun Halloween elements without being scary. Schindler’s illustrations are wonderful: the bright orange pumpkin against the black of the night sky sets the perfect tone for Halloween.

In addition, Silverman’s language is very well crafted. It’s easy to get drawn into the tale as the witch repeats her refrain about the pumpkin: “it’s big and it’s mine, but it’s stuck on the vine”.

In the end, I think Big Pumpkin really shows the power of a good picture book: despite not initially being a favorite of mine, the book made a strong enough impression on me that I remembered it even after all these years. Now that I’ve gotten old enough to appreciate picture books again, I can whole-heartedly recommend Big Pumpkin.

More books about Halloween.

Read more of Sarah's reviews.

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