by Ken Robbins

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From late summer to Thanksgiving, pumpkins are everywhere, a symbol of fall and a reminder of the holidays to come. In this handsome book, Ken Robbins—widely known for his sumptuous photo-essays on subjects ranging from trucks to tools to autumn leaves—portrays the pumpkin from seed, to sprout, to flower, to fully fledged fruit, and back again.

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From late summer to Thanksgiving, pumpkins are everywhere, a symbol of fall and a reminder of the holidays to come. In this handsome book, Ken Robbins—widely known for his sumptuous photo-essays on subjects ranging from trucks to tools to autumn leaves—portrays the pumpkin from seed, to sprout, to flower, to fully fledged fruit, and back again. Instructions are given to (safely) carve a jack-o'-lantern. As always in a book by Ken Robbins, a simple—but never simplisitc—text is accompanied by luscious photographs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Robbins (Tools; Seeds) provides a crisp photographic account of Halloween's iconic veggie. The horizontal alignment of the pages and color photos creates stability, while a monotone voice and close-up pictures detail the planting process from vine to mulch. Robbins's serious, scientific tone draws attention to even the tamest humor ("Some are round, but some of them are kind of flattened, or squashed, you might say"), and a how-to sequence on jack-o-lantern carving makes this just right for first-timers ("Put a candle inside and light it. It will look quite nice"). Gardeners will see their know-how confirmed in this forthright version, and novices may well be inspired to experience the slimy pulp and seeds for themselves. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
The air is cool, the cornstalks are brown, the geese are flying overhead, and it is time for pumpkins. Robbins' simple text and clear, close-up photos detail the story of pumpkins, from seed planting in the spring, to sprouts, flowers, and finally pumpkins. His serious, somewhat flat, tone lends scientific credibility to the text and also reads aloud well. The variety of pumpkins' shapes and sizes is shown and described; basic instructions for carving a jack-o-lantern are included. However, the book does not end with the jack-o-lantern—next year's crop is the focus on the last page. The book is beautifully designed; the horizontal approach, with alternating full-page close-ups and smaller photos, helps draw the young reader's eye from image to image. While there is no new information here, this is a beautiful depiction of the life cycle of the pumpkin plant. Since Robbins does not center the book on Halloween, it could be used in units about plants or even food.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Fall is pumpkin time. Robbins sets the season in both words and illustrations. He begins "the story of the pumpkin" with the planting of the seed. We can see in his clear, carefully composed photographs how the plant grows, the flowers emerge, and the pumpkin grows and ripens, as well as the many sizes and colors of pumpkins there are. We are encouraged to go out into the fields, pick a pumpkin, and design a jack-o'-lantern, to be cut by an adult. After Halloween, the seeds from the pumpkin can be used to start again in the spring. The color photographs tell the simple story, from a close-up of a hand holding several seeds, to a double portrait of a red-jacketed youngster next to a huge pumpkin. A five-page sequence details the creation of a jack-o'-lantern. Robbins's esthetic sensibilities govern the details and design of each piece of the visual tale. The photographs change from detailed naturalism to spooky impressionism when they show Halloween night, while the ultra close-ups of the pumpkin tops and stem on the title page and back of the jacket/cover are powerful visual abstractions.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-With color photos that equal any painting for artistry of composition and sensitivity, Robbins has created a book that is certain to become an autumn favorite. Without naming the season, it launches into a description of autumn as "-that time of year when-," clearly and poetically evoking the crisp, cooler days with the leaves "-splashing their color on the ground-." The author documents the life cycle of the pumpkin with close-up, naturalistic photos and clear, simple text. He discusses the wide variety of pumpkin colors and sizes, from the palm-sized types to those weighing more than 1000 pounds. Basic instructions are included for carving a jack-o-lantern, with adult help suggested. The next year's crop, ensured by the pumpkins and their seeds left to rot in the field, is the focus of the last spread. Will Hubbell's Pumpkin Jack (Albert Whitman, 2000) covers similar ground, but is told as a story, and has colored-pencil illustrations. Reading both books makes a great lesson in comparing and contrasting, as well as in botany and in the joys of the season.-Lynda Ritterman, Atco Elementary School, Waterford, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
At Halloween, pumpkins are everywhere, but the story of pumpkins begins with seeds sown in the spring, followed by plants, flowers and finally, fruits in surprising variety. Beautifully composed and reproduced color photographs show pumpkins on the vine, in the fields, on fruit stands and being carved (by an adult) before becoming part of a Halloween celebration. The alternation of full-page close-ups with smaller pictures and relatively simple text invites close attention to both. This holiday tie-in could be useful in the fall, but misses the full story. Photographs of a female bud and male flower fail to point out the difference, and there is no mention of the pollination necessary for the plant to produce fruit. The emphasis is on pumpkins for jack-o'-lanterns, not as a food plant, although most pumpkins in the U.S. are grown for processing. A supplemental purchase. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)
...Robbins' salute to this squash glimmers as brightly as a jack-o'-lantern.
Armchair Interviews
Pumpkins is a beautifully done book for children . . . If you celebrate Halloween, then you will not want to miss Pumpkins. It will be a wonderful treat for your favorite child.

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Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
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File size:
7 MB
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

In a career spanning twenty-five years and more than two dozen books, KEN ROBBINS has established himself as one of our foremost creators of nonfiction books for young children. He lives in East Hampton, New York.

Ken Robbins is an author and photographer of many children’s books. Of his Pumpkins, School Library Journal wrote: “The color photos equal any painting for artistry of composition and sensitivity.” Ken Robbins lives on Long Island, NY.

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