Welcome my latest book! Pumpkin Day is my first pre-K reader, about a family that visits a pumpkin patch. Erika Meza did the cheerful, autumn-perfect illustrations.
I never went to a pumpkin patch when I was a kid. We raised our own! Pie pumpkins (smaller, for cooking) were grown next to the corn in our big back garden. But pie pumpkins were too small to be interesting. I wanted to plant a giant Big Max pumpkin.
One year my stepfather got some seeds. He wasn’t sure, but he thought Big Max seeds were in the mix. Like Jack in “Jack and the Beanstalk,” I planted them, fingers crossed.
In order to raise one big pumpkin, you have to pinch back the others to give the big one room. One baby pumpkinling seemed to hold promise. I tended it with care.
By September, my pumpkin seemed to have a gland problem, as we say in the South. Was it my imagination or was the pumpkin longer than it was round? Maybe that was a temporary stage. I still pictured myself rolling my giant pumpkin across the yard to our house. I’d carve the biggest jack o’lantern ever!
Busy with school, I forgot about my pumpkin for several weeks. Then one day I walked through the weedy patch. The pumpkin should be big and round and orange by now but where was it?
I nearly tripped over it. My “pumpkin” was big, all right. Only it wasn’t orange and it wasn’t a pumpkin. I had grown a gourd the size and shape of a baseball bat.
I carried my giant pale-green gourd to the back porch. “Some Big Max,” I said in disgust. Halloween was almost here and I had no pumpkin to carve. Living in the country, you learned to make do. So with a marker I drew a face on one end of the gourd and propped it up on our front porch.
When Halloween was over, I brought the gourd into my bedroom. There it stayed until its pale green skin turned soft and my mother made me throw it out.
Now when I visit the pumpkin patch, I’m tempted, like the boy in the story, to haul away the biggest pumpkin I can find. Instead, I bring home one “just my size.”