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Jack was a Pumpkinhead. He lived in a big house on the edge of town and grew the largest pumpkin patch in all the land. Jack’s pumpkins were famous, for they were always the perfect shape and never rotted until well after Halloween. Every year around Halloween people came from all over to buy his pumpkins to make their jack-o-lanterns.
One year, Jack was getting ready for his annual pumpkin harvest when his good friend Pete came to visit.
“I have some bad news, Jack,” Pete said.
“What is it, Pete?” Jack asked, a little worried.
“The town has decided not to have Halloween this year! They said there was simply no reason for it and they didn’t have time to fuss with it with the other holidays coming up,” Pete told him. He knew this was very bad news indeed for Jack the Pumpkin Seller.
Jack became very sad and hung his head. “Whatever shall I do now, Pete? I have all these beautiful pumpkins and they won’t keep until next year.”
Pete replied, “Well, there’s always pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread for the other holidays.”
Jack was not buying this. “I don’t sell nearly as many pumpkins the rest of the year as I do for Halloween. And Pete, it’s not so much about the money. I live a simple life out here in the country and I don’t need much, but every year thousands of people get my pumpkins and take them into their homes and make them into beautiful jack-o-lanterns. All these pumpkins will be wasted, and not one jack-o-lantern will be given life this year. Oh, this is indeed very bad news,” Jack began to weep, large tears running down his big orange pumpkin face.
Pete hugged Jack, told him he would help him think of something, and went on back to town.
Jack wandered around his pumpkin patch until dark; then he sat there on a great big pumpkin until morning, when an idea finally hit him.
Jack went into his house and got dressed in his best clothes and headed to town.
When Jack got to town, he went straight to the mayor’s office. “Well, hello, Jack,” said Mr. Greeley, the mayor. “What brings you to town this fine morning?”
“Mr. Mayor, I have heard some very bad news and I need to speak to you about it. I have been told the town is not going to have Halloween this year. Is this true?”
“Yes, Jack, it is. We’ve decided Halloween just isn’t very important and we are going to quit having it.”
“But, Mr. Mayor, Halloween is very important! The children love Halloween! Lots of people love Halloween! And I have all those pumpkins…” said Jack.
“Well now, Jack, we can’t very well keep having Halloween just so you can sell your pumpkins. The children won’t even miss it; they will find something else to do. Maybe you ought to go over to Ray’s gas station, I heard he was looking for help,” said the mayor.
“I don’t want to work at the gas station – I want to sell my pumpkins! I want to provide jack-o-lanterns to people! I want to have Halloween!” Jack said angrily.
“It’s simply not going to happen, Jack. Good day,” said the mayor, dismissing Jack.
Good day, indeed, thought Jack to himself as he left the mayor’s office.
Jack wandered around town a bit and decided he would ask some of the townspeople what they thought about this absurd idea of not having Halloween.
“Hmmm. Hadn’t really thought about it much. I don’t imagine it will really matter,” said Mrs. Smith.
“Oh yes, I heard about that. It will give us more time to plan for the other holidays,” said Mr. Howell of the meat market.
And on and on went the day, with everyone not even caring that there would be no Halloween.
Jack was sitting on a bench in the park when a little girl sat down beside him. She also looked very sad. Jack asked her what the matter was.
“We’re not having Halloween this year! Can you believe that?” said the little girl.
“I know!” said Jack. “That’s why I’m sad, too.”
“Halloween is my favorite holiday of the whole year. It’s the only time you get to dress up! And the trick-or-treating! There will be no candy apples this year! And very worst of all, no jack-o-lanterns!” said the little girl, on the verge of tears.
The two sat in silence there on the bench, lamenting the loss of Halloween.
Jack did not sleep well that night, and arose early. He loaded his cart full of pumpkins and packed a knapsack. He closed up his house and set off down the lane – away from the town. Jack was going to try to find another town where he could provide them with his fabulous jack-o-lanterns, but the next town was several miles away and it would be a long trip.
So Jack walked.
And he walked.
At last, he saw the outline of a small town ahead in the sunset.
Jack found a nice place in a farmer’s barn to sleep and he slept peacefully through the night with the bright hopes of selling all his pumpkins to the new town in the morning.
When the sun rose, so did Jack. He was excited as he headed toward the new town with his cart full of soon to be jack-o-lanterns. He could hardly wait to see the faces and smiles that would be carved into the pumpkins.
He came into town and entered the coffee shop. He told the waitress he was from the next town over and he had come to provide their town with jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
“Good luck,” the waitress said. “We aren’t having Halloween this year.”
Jack must have had quite a look on his face because the waitress asked him if he was going to be OK. “No, not really. That makes me very sad,” Jack told her.
“Well, not much we can do about it,” said the waitress. “They say it’s just not important, so we’re not havin’ it.”
Jack left the café and thought about what to do next. He walked on toward the next town, hoping to find them getting ready for Halloween.
But they weren’t. And neither was the next town, or the next town, or even the one after that.
By this time, Jack had wandered for days and was very far from his big house in the country. He was beginning to realize that perhaps Halloween was gone for good when he saw a sign on the side of the road. It was a big sign that said, “Welcome to Spook Ville, home of the biggest Halloween festival in all the land.”
“Woo hoo!” yelled Jack as he jumped up and down with glee. He ran all the way to the town called Spook Ville.
When he got there, he ran to the town hall and introduced himself to a woman at the front desk. Her name was Rose.
“Are you having Halloween this year?” He asked Rose, out of breath.
She looked at him with utter disbelief and said, “Why, of course we’re having Halloween! Why wouldn’t we have Halloween?”
He said, “All of the other towns have decided to not have Halloween anymore. They don’t think it’s important.”
“Well, that’s just silly, now, isn’t it?” Rose asked.
“Yes, ma’am, it is. And quite sad, if you ask me,” Jack replied.
“Quite sad, indeed,” agreed Rose. “So what can we do for you, Mr. Pumpkinhead?”
“I have this cart full of pumpkins just waiting to be made into jack-o-lanterns. I’ve brought them all the way from my big pumpkin patch ten towns over.”
“Oh my, are you THE Jack Pumpkinhead? The Pumpkin Seller?” Rose asked.
“Yes, that’s me,” Jack answered.
“We’ve sent people over to your patch for the past couple of years to buy your pumpkins for our festival! And here you are in the flesh! What good luck!” Rose said excitedly. “It turns out that our local pumpkin patch operator has left town and we have no one to grow our pumpkins anymore.”
“My, that is quite a dilemma,” Jack said. “Do you think your town will ever stop having Halloween?”
“Oh no. Most definitely not. It’s the biggest celebration of the year for us! I couldn’t even imagine a town without Halloween!”
So Jack decided to stay in Spook Ville. He took over the Spook Ville pumpkin patch and made it even bigger and better than the one in his old town. Every home for miles had one of his beautiful jack-o-lanterns. Some had lots! Spook Ville had a huge Halloween parade all the children of Spook Ville were so happy on that very special night as they trick-or-treated until well after dark! It was the happiest Halloween Jack had ever had.
A few days later, Jack received a letter from his old friend, Pete. Pete told him that Halloween had come and gone without much notice, and the children of the town had become very sad. They had quit running and playing, they had stopped eating very well, and they cried all the time. The grown ups found out it was because they had missed Halloween so much – it was the only night of the year they got to dress up, have jack-o-lanterns, run the streets with unbridled abandon, and eat all that candy, and they just missed it more than they could bear.
He told Jack he had gone to visit the old pumpkin patch by the big house in the country, and the pumpkins must have been sad, too, because for some reason, they had rotted right there on the vines. He told Jack the mayor had decided they would not skip Halloween again and they wanted Jack to come back.
Jack was glad the town had come to its senses about skipping Halloween, but he was quite happy right where he was in a town that was not crazy enough to even think about giving up Halloween!
© 2008 Tammy Wilson
Tammy lives in Oklahoma, USA.
Read a review of a terrific pumpkin picture book.
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