Pick a Pumpkin

by Patricia Toht (Author)

Pick a Pumpkin
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
The creators of Pick a Pine Tree are back with a joyful, energetic celebration of a Halloween tradition. Pick a pumpkin from the patch. Tall and lean or short and fat. Vivid orange, ghostly white, or speckled green, might be just right. Pairing a wonderfully rhythmic read-aloud text with expressive retro illustrations, author Patricia Toht and illustrator Jarvis capture all the excitement and familial feeling of a favorite holiday tradition. Readers will be happy to follow along with each step, from picking out the perfect specimen at the pumpkin patch (be sure to stop for cider and toffee apples) to carting it home, scooping out the insides, carving a scary face, and finally lighting a candle inside -- savoring the familiar ritual of transforming an ordinary pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind glowing jack-o'-lantern.

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Publishers Weekly

In a sequel to their Christmas-themed Pick a Pine Tree, Toht and Jarvis follow a family and their circle of pals as they transform some humble pumpkin-patch residents into the ultimate symbol of Halloween: the jack-o'-lantern. As in the previous book, the rhymes are lively and lilting, even featuring some of the same cues ("But, wait!") that push readers to the next spread. The pacing, leisurely but never slack, savors each stage of the pumpkins' journey to spooky fabulousness, including the a wagon ride and the removal of "Clumpy seeds. Guts and things." Jarvis's bustling, chalk-textured pictures evoke the spirit of homespun fun, while the deep color palette--punctuated by radiant orange, of course ("Its red-hot eyes/ will gaze/ and flicker;/ Its fiery grin/ will blaze and snicker")--feels like a favorite fall flannel. Ages 3-7. (July)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1-This rhythmically rhyming holiday homage begins at the pumpkin patch with an unnamed family picking pumpkins, "tall and lean/or short and fat./Vivid orange, /ghostly white, /or speckled green/might be just right," then heading home. Before carving can begin, pumpkins must be cleaned, tools gathered, friends invited, and innards removed--"Lumpy chunks. Sticky strings./Clumpy seeds. Guts and things." Now the carving can begin with all its creative choices--"A kiss. A frown./A toothy grin./ A zigzag gap/cut long and thin./A smirk. A snarl./An eerie O./Or pointy fangs, /all in a row." Next comes decorations, then costumes and finally with a light inside, "LOOK! /It's not a pumpkin anymore--It's a...JACK-O'-LANTERN!" Toht's fun-to-read text is generally spot-on, and really captures the spirit of Halloween traditions in a family friendly way. Using pencil, chalk, paint and digital coloring, Jarvis's illustrations have the look and fell of collage. This and their muted fall color palette truly capture the feeling of autumn and the slightly spookiness of Halloween. Excellent depictions of a variety of jack-o'-lanterns, action scenes, and the inclusion of various thematic critters, such as crows, black cat, mice, and spiders. VERDICT While this books focuses on making a jack-o'-lantern from beginning to end, it also covers the Halloween traditions of scary decorations and trick-or-treating. Perfect for storytime and a good addition to your Halloween books.-Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Patricia Toht
Patricia Toht is the author of Pick a Pine Tree and many other children's books. She once owned a children's bookshop called Never Never Land before turning a love of books into a love of writing. Patricia Toht lives in Chicago.

Jarvis is the illustrator of Pick a Pine Tree. He is also an animator who has worked as both a record jacket designer and an animation director. The author-illustrator of Alan's Big, Scary Teeth; Mrs. Mole, I'm Home!; and Tropical Jerry, Jarvis lives in Manchester, England.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
July 20, 2019
Age Range
4 - 8 years

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