Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices

Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices

by David M. Schwartz
     
 

Compost won't mean the same thing after readers have seen the amazing transformation of Jack from grinning pumpkin to mold-mottled wreckage to hopeful green shoot. The story of decomposition is vividly told so that science comes to life (and death). Part story, part science, and a whole lot of fun. Features a teacher guide in the back of the book, and

Overview


Compost won't mean the same thing after readers have seen the amazing transformation of Jack from grinning pumpkin to mold-mottled wreckage to hopeful green shoot. The story of decomposition is vividly told so that science comes to life (and death). Part story, part science, and a whole lot of fun. Features a teacher guide in the back of the book, and additional material (including instructions on how to put on a Rotten Pumpkin play in your school) are on the Creston and Author websites.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
What’s scarier than a grinning jack-o’-lantern? How about what happens to it after Halloween? Kuhn’s upbeat prose poems are written from the perspectives of 15 scavengers, insects, and molds that aid in a gourd’s decomposition, which Kuhn captures in gruesomely vivid photographs. As the pumpkin transforms from a crisp orange specimen to a blackened, sunken puddle of mush, the speakers include a mouse, “black rot” mold, and a fly (“You’re gonna love hearing how I eat. I vomit on the pumpkin flesh. My vomit dissolves pumpkin nutrients so I can lap them up”). The inventive concept combines a Halloween theme with science that readers can easily replicate—if they have the stomach for it. Ages 4–12. (July)
From the Publisher

"Grossly interesting!! Schwartz takes us on another fascinating journey in science."
—Penny Glackman, Excellence in Science Teaching Award Winner

"An enlightening tale of nature's recycling process. It's amazing how much life a rotting pumpkin supports—and how many children will be delighted and disgusted!"
—Vicki Cobb, author of more than 80 science books for kids

“A quick and icky guide to decomposition and the organisms that actually do the "dirty" work. This is a simple, fun, yet informative book that would be handy in any science classroom! I loved the penicillin part!”
—Ian Lesser, science teacher and curriculum writer

"Moldy splendor!"
- Betsy Bird, New York Public Library

Gr 1-4–Schwartz meticulously tracks the life cycle of a pumpkin/jack-o'-lantern as it decays and eventually gives birth to new pumpkins. The gross-out factor is high, as each of the rodents, insects, molds, fun...gi, etc., do their respective jobs. For example, the fly states: “You're gonna love hearing how I eat. I vomit on the pumpkin flesh. My vomit dissolves pumpkin nutrients so I can lap them up.” Fifteen different organisms describe their role in the eventual demise of this jack-o'-lantern. The photography is sharp and clear, and effectively ramps up the “eww” element. A few concerns might be the occasional use of the vernacular, as in the aforementioned “gonna,” and some younger children could be upset about the fate of their carefully carved pumpkins. Jack's plaintive voice is heard now and then: “Where once I smiled and winked, now fungi ring my mouth and eyes. A cheerful jack I am no more.” Schwartz includes some suggestions for classroom investigations, and they would be a wonderful vehicle for scientific explorations.
-- School Library Journal

"A gorgeous, colorful picture book perfect for elementary or middle school science classes, especially post-Halloween. The photos are absolutely beautiful!"
- Mrs. Readerpants, review

"ROTTEN PUMPKIN is not for the faint of heart and I suspect that kids will love it! It has lots of colorful photographs showing the different types of animals that feed on the pumpkin as well as the various molds that can appear as the pumpkin begins to disintegrate. In addition to the photos, there are detailed (yet easy-to-understand) descriptions of how the molds grow and how the pumpkin eventually turns into a new green shoot!

ROTTEN PUMPKINS really is an educational look at decomposition and I think teachers might appreciate this book. I can certainly see how valuable it would be in explaining some science concepts and there is even a glossary in the back of the book along with some ideas for classroom investigations.

I can't think of another book quite like ROTTEN PUMPKINS, but I do appreciate the subject matter and how it's presented. I can pretty much guarantee that this picture book will keep the kids' interest!"
-- Booking Mama

STARRED review from Kirkus!
Carving a pumpkin for Halloween is a beloved tradition, but all too soon, that gourd falls prey to a host of scary, gross and unbelievably fascinating creatures.

Leave it to Schwartz and Kuhn (What in the Wild: Mysteries of Nature Concealed and Revealed, 2010) to combine their considerable talents again to create a page-turning title on decomposition. The author boldly chooses to give voice to the various decomposers that visit old Jack. Readers hear from animals, mold, fungi, rot, bacteria and, periodically, from the pumpkin itself. The photographs zoom in for close-ups of the characters in this slightly horrific performance. Fuzzy Penicillium, slime mold and spore cases “that look like tiny red balloons” all gruesomely impress. Readers learn more than just how slugs, flies, worms and sow bugs feast on the former jack-o’-lantern. Time and weather play their parts, too. One seed waits as “the animals came, the molds grew, the pumpkin collapsed into a heap of goo….” When the spring rains come, it begins “pushing roots downward and stem upward. If all goes well, my flowers will form fruit.” A glossary follows, further describing the unfamiliar terms introduced in the text, and a page devoted to “Classroom Investigations” suggests ways to engage in the scientific method and conduct experiments with pumpkins.

An ecology lesson, an inspiration for readers’ theater—or a compelling read all on its own. (Nonfiction. 5-12)
-- Kirkus, starred review

What’s scarier than a grinning jack-o’-lantern? How about what happens to it after Halloween? . . . The inventive concept combines a Halloween theme with science that readers can easily replicate—if they have the stomach for it. Ages 4–12.
-- Publishers Weekly

From the opening disclaimer of “No animals, molds, or fungi were harmed in the making of this book, but some pumpkins got pretty mushy,” the tone is set for a decompositional journey so fun, kids won’t realize they are being educated about consumer-resource systems! The tale begins on a Halloween night. The first voice is Jack the jack-o’-lantern who, having proudly performed his duty, is now relegated to the garden to rot. The voices that follow are those of the various flora and fauna that contribute to the final stages of Jack’s lifecycle: squirrels take any leftover seeds, mold spores land on Jack and grow, earthworms dine on the pumpkin flesh and their droppings provide nutrients to the soil, and so on. The color photos of the process are delightfully gross: close-ups of Jack as he gradually turns mushier and gooier, gets covered with thicker and thicker layers of mold, and finally returns to the earth. There’s no sad ending to this gourd saga: one of Jack’s seeds found its way down into the rich soil and sprouts to begin the cycle all over again. Never did I think I would read a book containing the word “plasmodium” and have such a blast! Librarians and teachers, know this: the yucky images will have the kids yelling “gross” while they rapidly devour the book and have you grinning like a jack-o’-lantern because you slipped in an ecological food chain lesson! Highly and rottenly recommended for ages 8 to 11.
-- Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development, Ingram Library Services: News and Reviews

“This is the perfect book to introduce an ecosystem that is self contained, or to explain how nature is dependent on various life forms.. . This is a quick recycling story that kids will love because it is so icky! Children will be disgusted and grossed out and read it again and again.”
-- Jennifer Szoch, Reviewer

“Icky Gross Fun! As a school librarian, I have learned that gross out factor can have great appeal for a book and this one does not disappoint. . .
This book was wonderfully informative and excellently grotesque at the same time. Then at the back it even includes a glossary and classroom investigation suggestions that you can try. 5/5 stars.”
-- Melissa Williams, school librarian

“ I loved the photos and the idea of telling the story through the viewpoints of different decomposers. This is a topic our third graders study and I can just imagine my boys loving the "gross" photos. I can see a teacher easily using this with a group of students in a variety of ways. They could create a KWL chart about what happens to a pumpkin after Halloween. The end of the book suggests science experiments students can work on themselves using pumpkins. This text offers new vocabulary and provides the right amount of picture support to illustrate the concepts. The book includes a glossary for additional vocabulary support. Thanks for sharing this book with me.”
-- Gale Lewis, elementary school teacher

“Our 7th grade science standards include understanding decomposers, and this is the simplest, most beautifully visual book on this topic I've ever seen. I'll be looking for it in an ebook format, so my science teachers can read it to the whole class. Great science experiment extensions in the back matter. I can visualize eight science classes of rotten pumpkins sitting outside our school. Yuck!"
-- Monique German, middle school teacher

"A gorgeous, colorful picture book perfect for elementary or middle school science classes, especially post-Halloween. The photos are absolutely beautiful!"
-- Leigh Collazo, school librarian

“Wow! Loved how David Schwartz made rotting pumpkin flesh informative bad fun. Kids will love the Ick factor. Teachers will appreciate the opportunity for science investigation and discussion. Well-done!”
-- Susan Thacker-Gwaltney, Educator

"A dynamic mix of story and nonfiction, this book follows the life of a pumpkin. He has his shining moment as a jack-o-lantern lit for Halloween, but then is put into the compost. That is where the story gets interesting. First he is chewed on by mice, squirrels, slugs and vomited on by flies. Now he looks a lot different and has fungi growing. The various molds introduce themselves, explaining what they do, including the fascinating Penicillium. Sow bugs, earthworms, slime mold and yeast work on the pumpkin too. It is left as just a pile of seeds and little else. Until spring arrives!

Schwartz shows readers just how fascinating science is with his in-depth descriptions of the decomposition process. Children will adore the explanation of how flies taste and eat, the process of earthworm poop, and all of the molds seen up close. But this book goes far beyond the gross and takes the reader right through the entire process, detailing it with interesting moments throughout.

The photographs by Kuhn are particularly useful in a book like this. Capturing the changing face of the pumpkin as it molds over adds real interest visually to the title. At the same time, the close up images of yeasts and slime mold are grossly gripping.

Perfect for autumn and Halloween, this book will have kids looking at their slumping pumpkins with new eyes. Appropriate for ages 6-9."
-- Waking Brain Cells Review

You’ve got to love a book that grosses you out as much as this one does. . . Award-winning author David Schwartz matches his nerdy science know-how with his keen sense of humor to create this very educational and entertaining book, while science and nature photographer, Dwight Kuhn works magic on the spectacular close-up images. . . What a brilliant and inventive idea for a book!
--SmartBooksforSmartKids reviews

"I bought Rotten Pumpkin - gave it to one of the librarians and haven't seen it since. Have a feeling it is the best science book for kids to come out in quite a while."
--Kathleen West, retired elem. school principal

"Who says the scariest Halloween books for kids are strictly fictional? With Rotten Pumpkin you’ve all the thrills of a typical horror story, laden with facts along the way. The hero at the top of his game. The downfall. The insidious, frankly disgusting, forces that eat away at him until he’s nothing left but a blackened husk of his former self. Oh, it’s thrilling stuff. With applications in the classroom, in the home, and on the stage, there’s nowhere this rotting corpse of a pumpkin doesn’t belong. So this holiday season don’t bother handing the kids yet another copy of Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark when they beg you for child-friendly horror fare. Just load them down with a little Rotten Pumpkin. Guaranteed to make hypochondriacs out of even the stiffest souls."
--Fuse #8 Review, School Library Journal

Each photo in the book is simply amazing. A great title for those interested in the processes of decomposition/composting and food chains.
--Review, One Book, Two Books, Old Books, New Books

"Of all the strange things growing on this pumpkin, I am the strangest. I am a slime mold. I started as a single cell, tumbling through the soil. Every once in a while I divided in half so there were two of 'me.' Soon there were lots and lots of us. Then we did the oddest thing: we joined to become one living creature that spread out in squiggly yellow arms like a net." — from the book

Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
Every Halloween, children and adults carve funny or scary faces into their favorite pumpkins, making jack-o-lanterns. After weeks of sitting on the front porch, these jack-o-lanterns slowly start to age. First, they start slivering up with puckered lips, and then they begin to decompose. Now, readers get to learn the scientific changes that occur as a jack-o-lantern breaks down and returns back to the soil from which it came. The storytelling device of the pumpkin narrating the details of its life allows young readers to learn this process in a less intimidating way than typical third-person text. Accompanying detailed photographs illustrate the progression step by step. Although the glossary does a great job of defining difficult words like decompose or spore, the actual vocabulary in the reading looks the same as the rest so readers have no visual indication of which words are included in the glossary. This book reads like a picture book, but provides amazing facts. Reviewer: Julia Beiker AGERANGE: Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Schwartz meticulously tracks the life cycle of a pumpkin/jack-o'-lantern as it decays and eventually gives birth to new pumpkins. The gross-out factor is high, as each of the rodents, insects, molds, fungi, etc., do their respective jobs. For example, the fly states: "You're gonna love hearing how I eat. I vomit on the pumpkin flesh. My vomit dissolves pumpkin nutrients so I can lap them up." Fifteen different organisms describe their role in the eventual demise of this jack-o'-lantern. The photography is sharp and clear, and effectively ramps up the "eww" element. A few concerns might be the occasional use of the vernacular, as in the aforementioned "gonna," and some younger children could be upset about the fate of their carefully carved pumpkins. Jack's plaintive voice is heard now and then: "Where once I smiled and winked, now fungi ring my mouth and eyes. A cheerful jack I am no more." Schwartz includes some suggestions for classroom investigations, and they would be a wonderful vehicle for scientific explorations. Those wishing for a gentler look at this process might go to Wendy Pfeffer's A Log's Life (S & S, 1997).—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Carving a pumpkin for Halloween is a beloved tradition, but all too soon, that gourd falls prey to a host of scary, gross and unbelievably fascinating creatures. Leave it to Schwartz and Kuhn (What in the Wild: Mysteries of Nature Concealed and Revealed, 2010) to combine their considerable talents again to create a page-turning title on decomposition. The author boldly chooses to give voice to the various decomposers that visit old Jack. Readers hear from animals, mold, fungi, rot, bacteria and, periodically, from the pumpkin itself. The photographs zoom in for close-ups of the characters in this slightly horrific performance. Fuzzy Penicillium, slime mold and spore cases "that look like tiny red balloons" all gruesomely impress. Readers learn more than just how slugs, flies, worms and sow bugs feast on the former jack-o'-lantern. Time and weather play their parts, too. One seed waits as "the animals came, the molds grew, the pumpkin collapsed into a heap of goo…." When the spring rains come, it begins "pushing roots downward and stem upward. If all goes well, my flowers will form fruit." A glossary follows, further describing the unfamiliar terms introduced in the text, and a page devoted to "Classroom Investigations" suggests ways to engage in the scientific method and conduct experiments with pumpkins. An ecology lesson, an inspiration for readers' theater--or a compelling read all on its own. (Nonfiction. 5-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781939547033
Publisher:
Creston Books
Publication date:
07/23/2013
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
1,074,834
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
4 - 12 Years

Meet the Author


David Schwartz is the author of over 50 math and science books, including many popular titles such as How Much is a Million?, G is for Googol and If You Hopped Like a Frog. His math and science presentations have delighted students in over 1,000 schools in almost every state and many foreign countries. With Dwight Kuhn, David produced Where in the Wild? Camouflaged Creatures Concealed and Revealed, which won the SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Literature and the Animal Behavior Society's Outstanding Children's Book Award. He lives in Oakland, CA. Dwight Kuhn has illustrated more than 140 children's books on nature and biology with his brilliant photographs. His images have also appeared in major magazines and textbooks. Dwight was one of ten photographers featured in Susan Rayfield's Wildlife Photography: The Art and Technique of Ten Masters. He lives in Maine.

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