Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A South-of-the-border setting only mildly spices up Yacowitz's (The Jade Stone) familiar plot; it's Cepeda's (Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey) saucy oil paintings that have real bite. Old Juana always wins the crown for the best pumpkins at the annual fiesta, but her envious neighbor, Foolish Fernando, is determined to wrest it from her. He surreptitiously watches her and copies her every move with the pumpkin crop, even dressing himself to look like her when he goes into his own field. Predictably, he misses the obvious--Juana's constancy; equally predictably, he ends up stealing Juana's best pumpkins. Cepeda wisely tones down the text's caricature of Fernando, making him more credible, less doltish and a little sympathetic to boot. The artist's festive palette and his use of vignettes as well as full- and double-page spreads syncopate the story; his energetic, slightly skewed characters will move readers from page to page. For those with whetted appetites, a recipe for pumpkin soup is included. Ages 3-6. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Each year Old Juana wins the pumpkin crown at the big fiesta but this year Foolish Fernando is determined to beat her. Secretly following her to copy her every move, Fernando dons a dress exactly like hers, coos to his blossoms and waters his beauties. His biggest problem is that he avoids the dedicated care that Juana gives to her crop. During the fiesta, Fernando learns a lesson he won't forget. Fernando's attempts to talk to his pumpkins as Juana does will bring laughter from young listeners. Exuberant oil paintings capture the rich humor of the story. This is the perfect book to kick off the fall pumpkin season.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-A story with a moral and lots of humor-just right for a Thanksgiving or fall storytime. Old Juana grows pumpkins that always win the prize at the annual pumpkin fiesta in her Mexican village. Foolish Fernando thinks he can grow bigger ones if he just spies on her and copies what she does. Unfortunately, he does not emulate Juana in the most important things: the hard work, time, and love she puts into her farming. After several humorous mishaps, Fernando learns his lesson and Juana makes a new friend. The story is perfectly illustrated with lively oil paintings in hot, bright colors that capture the flavor of the country and enhance the animated story. At the end, the two friends are shown enjoying a bowl of pumpkin soup, right next to the recipe. A very nice offering for the fall.-Judith Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
Foolish Fernando joins the likes of Juan Bobo in a folktale-like formula starring a 19th-century story anti-hero who's always getting things wrong. Old Juana grows the biggest, roundest, brightest pumpkins in San Miguel, while her neighbor, Foolish Fernando, wants to discover her secret. Brightly colored oil paintings humorously use movement and contrast to show, on three occasions, Foolish Fernando spying on Old Juana in the pumpkin patch, and every time missing the point. He dons a dress and straw hat, coos and sings as he waters, and solicits his bull Toro to join him, all in an effort to imitate Old Juana and her burro Dulcita. Nothing works; Old Juana's pumpkins prosper while Fernando's shrivel. His last desperate attempt is to pass off Old Juana's three prize pumpkins as his own at the fiesta, but he's just too foolish to pull it off. Champions of honesty and hard work will not be disappointed in Old Juana's clever outwitting of her bumbling neighbor, and her ultimate transformation of his roguery with a promise of mentoring. (Picture book. 5-9)