Mrs. McMurphy's Pumpkin

Overview

One morning, a few days before Halloween, Mrs. McMurphy wakes up to find a large pumpkin by her front door. "My mouth is here. I speak to you. When my teeth are here, I'll eat you!" it says with a mischievous grin. Unafraid, Mrs. McMurphy politely places the threatening squash outside. But day after day the pumpkin returns to make good on its promise!

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Overview

One morning, a few days before Halloween, Mrs. McMurphy wakes up to find a large pumpkin by her front door. "My mouth is here. I speak to you. When my teeth are here, I'll eat you!" it says with a mischievous grin. Unafraid, Mrs. McMurphy politely places the threatening squash outside. But day after day the pumpkin returns to make good on its promise!

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This is a warm and friendly Halloween story with no witches or ghosts and only the tiniest bit of suspense. Mrs. McMurphy is a kind, sweet farmwoman who is very much in charge of her animals—and her pumpkins. One pumpkin appears each day with one more addition to his face (and it's worth noting how expressive the pumpkin can be with nothing more than a change in the line of his mouth). This pumpkin promises to eat Mrs. McMurphy as soon as he has teeth, but she has other plans. Mrs. McMurphy firmly sends the pumpkin to the porch, then the shed, then floating down the river and even in a package to the North Pole. When the pumpkin finally shows up with a mouthful of carefully carved teeth, Mrs. McMurphy turns it into warm, sweet pumpkin pie for her trick or treaters. The illustrations are reminiscent of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art with warm fall colors, flat farm paintings and delicate borders of pumpkin blossoms. The story would be fun to read aloud, with children predicting what might happen or creating their own conclusions. It's a perfect example of creating a story with a new twist for a popular holiday that has already generated thousands of books. 2004, HarperCollins, Ages 3 to 7.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-This tale's classic storytelling structure makes it a natural for storytime. Four days before Halloween, a pumpkin with a "wicked grin" and no other facial features appears in Mrs. McMurphy's hallway. It threatens her, "When my teeth are here, I'll eat you," but she refuses to be cowed and carries it outside. The pumpkin mysteriously reappears inside her house on each of the following days, first with a "crooked nose" to add to the grin, then "two pointy ears," then "two mean eyes." Each time, it repeats its warning and the woman responds by sending it farther and farther away. Finally, on Halloween, the pumpkin returns once more, complete with "large, sharp teeth," and declares that it's ready to eat her. Mrs. McMurphy calmly replies, "We'll have to see about that," and ends up making a pie and serving delicious slices to her trick-or-treaters. Walton uses lots of repetition that invites young listeners to chant along. Done in gouache and acrylics, the folkloric illustrations are dominated by orange tones and filled with wonderful details. This is sure to be a Halloween favorite.-Jane Marino, Bronxville Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mrs. McMurphy, who lives by herself "on a farm at the edge of the woods," finds her routine interrupted four days before Halloween by "a large pumpkin with a wicked, wicked grin sitting in the hall by her front door." The pumpkin greets her, "My mouth is here. I speak to you. When my teeth are here, I'll eat you!" Mrs. McMurphy dispatches the pumpkin with wit and aplomb, but it returns daily until Halloween, when children in costume receive slices of warm, sweet pumpkin (!) pie. Repetition, cumulation, and predictability are the perfect ingredients for a great read-aloud. Children will delight in the ways that Mrs. McMurphy tries to get rid of the pumpkin, and enjoy repeating the pumpkin's daily threat. Bettoli fills her cheerful gouache and acrylic illustrations with interesting details, including the antics of a cat and a mouse, animals in the borders, and calendar pages for the days leading to the holiday, making this a perfect little-bit-but-not-too-scary Halloween treat. (Picture book. 3-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060534097
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/7/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.24 (w) x 10.26 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Walton is the author of more than sixty books for children. He lives in Provo, Utah, with his wife, Ann, and their five children.

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