Stumpkin

by Lucy Ruth Cummins

On the sidewalk outside a city shop is a cheery display of bright orange pumpkins.... read more

On the sidewalk outside a city shop is a cheery display of bright orange pumpkins. As Halloween approaches, the pumpkins are chosen one by one and taken away, only to appear in windows of apartments across the street with triangle eyes and friendly, toothy grins. The pumpkins left behind long to become jack-o-lanterns like their friends. But one pumpkin knows he’s different. He’s a stemless pumpkin. A stumpkin. The shopkeeper’s black cat likes Stumpkin, but no one else seems to want him. When even a gnarled yellow gourd is taken home to be transformed into a Halloween visage before the shop closes up on Halloween night, Stumpkin knows his chances are gone. (“The gourd?? thought Stumpkin. I guess that’s that.”) In fact, his future looks pretty grim... Humor and pathos are perfectly balanced in a picture book that is also a masterful pairing of words and pictures. The illustrations, rendered in goache, pencil, ink, and brush marker, are black-and-white on cream-colored pages, with pumpkin-orange (of course) and hints of green for stems (or stump) as accent. The humans are all faceless silhouettes, the pumpkins incredibly expressive. The narrative is perfectly paced, guileless, and open-hearted—of course we care about Stumpkin, whose story is poignant, and sweetly triumphant.

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

show less