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Picnic at Mudsock Meadow

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It's time for the annual Halloween picnic. But the kids are worried about the ghost of Titus Dinworthy. Except William, who's pretty sure old Titus is just swamp gas; it's Hester Bledden he's worried about. Every time William is about to win a contest, Hester shows up, sticks out her tongue, and shouts, 'Peeee youuuuu!' But when something eerie rises out of the swamp, William gets a chance to show both Titus and Hester what a boy from Mudsock Meadow is made of.


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It's time for the annual Halloween picnic. But the kids are worried about the ghost of Titus Dinworthy. Except William, who's pretty sure old Titus is just swamp gas; it's Hester Bledden he's worried about. Every time William is about to win a contest, Hester shows up, sticks out her tongue, and shouts, 'Peeee youuuuu!' But when something eerie rises out of the swamp, William gets a chance to show both Titus and Hester what a boy from Mudsock Meadow is made of.

Having failed to win the pumpkin-carving, pie-eating, and seed-spitting contests, William hopes to impress Hester by winning the Dress-Up Competition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A cast of clamorous children and colorful adults vivifies Polacco's latest childhood memory. Know-it-all Hester is always the first to point out shy William's shortcomings. At the annual Halloween picnic, however, William--having suffered humiliation throughout pumpkin carving, pumpkin seed spitting and tug-o'-war--decides to get even. He jumps into the eerie, glowing swamp nearby and emerges with a scary look that wins the costume contest hands down--and Hester's admiration, too. Polacco's text has the easy-going rhythm of a seasoned storyteller. Memorable nomenclature makes the proceedings distinctive, while many homey details exude feelings of small-town coziness and simplicity. Humorous scenes, such as a crew of girls from the Wah Tan Yee Girls Auxillary, Wigwam
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
It's the annual Halloween picnic and the whole town turns out -even the local ghost. The frenzied festivities are remarkably captured in watercolors and portray a party that can really be enjoyed anytime of the year.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Writer-illustrator Polacco steeps her Halloween tale in history. William, the hero of Picnic at Mudsock Meadow is a boy who likes science more than art. After being tormented by his own failure and by the teasing of Hester Bledden, William disproves the widespread tale of local ghosts and earns Hester's admiration and friendship. Polacco uses word and visual images to portray the refreshing setting of a Grange Hall picnic celebration. Instead of our commonly known tradition of candy grabbing, the diversions of pumpkin carving, seed spitting and a dress-up competition take center stage.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-- The Mudsock Meadow kids are waiting for the wienie roast at the annual Grange Hall Halloween picnic. Nearby is Quicksand Bottoms, the marsh from which the ghost of miner Titus Dinworthy is reputed to rise each night. When Hester makes fun of William's explanation that the legendary ghost is nothing but swamp gas, he tries, but fails, to reclaim his dignity by besting her in the pumpkin-carving, seed-spitting, and pie-eating contests. But he finds a more courageous way to win Hester's admiration: by meeting the dreaded ghost face-to-face and debunking its myth. The watercolor illustrations, in harvest colors, are typical Polacco: exaggerations approaching the cartoonish, but belying too much loving reverence to be considered as such. A crew of gangly, wide-eyed country characters populate the pages. There's lots of energy within each picture, and it often bounces around from person to person as the characters make startled eye contact with one another. Polacco's artwork couldn't be better--simultaneously funny and poignant; packed with interest and good humor; and always a feast for the eye. The story feels golden and genuine. Its ending, though, is predictable, as opposed to the emotional punch line that gives her Chicken Sunday (Philomel, 1992), for example, its extra-special impact. This basic difference between the two books will invite comparisons, from which Picnic may emerge looking almost fabulous. --Liza Bliss, formerly at Leominster Public Library, MA
Carolyn Phelan
Calling to mind the swamp monster theme in Polacco's "Some Birthday" , this tells of a Halloween party that climaxes with a leap into the swamp. William, who "always liked science class better than art," is repeatedly shamed at the festivities: his carved pumpkin is called silly, he mortifies himself by swallowing his seed at the pumpkin-seed spitting contest, and even his ghost costume (a sheet) looks wimpy. But when an eerie light rises from the nearby swamp, only William is confident enough to jump in and prove that "it "is" swamp gas . . . just like we learned in science." His stinking, dripping, glowing sheet earns him the dress-up competition prize--for swamp monster. Lively, full-color illustrations exaggerate the characterization and the humor to good effect. An entertaining read-aloud.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142413920
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 262,476
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco lives in Union City, Michigan.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2007

    Inspiring Book

    The kids at Mudsock Meadow are having a picnic and contests. In the story, William tries to impress Hester but he likes science better than art. So, he does badly at the pumpkin carving contest and the seed spitting contest. Later a ¿ghost¿ comes at the costume contest, and William saves the day with his science knowledge. The message of this book is that you should always be confident, and you should never give up. This book has a lot of entertainment when William gets teased, and when he saves the day by proving the ¿ghost¿ is only swamp gas. This is a humorous book, and maybe a bit sad in the beginning, but it has a great ending. Overall, this is a great book!

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