Pick a Pumpkin


‘… make a nose./ A triangle. A pinprick./ A nose that grows/ from thin to thick. // Under the nose…’  We join a trio entering a farm to ‘Pick a Pumpkin’. Which will they choose? ‘Vivid orange,/ ghostly white,/ or speckled green‘. Each has his or her own opinion. Crows and cat watch on.

Award-winning illustrator Jarvis has created lusciously suggestive, meaningful pictures. We feel the autumn chill, smell the scent of fallen leaves. There are ‘in-jokes’ like two shops the pumpkin choosers pass, ‘Jarvis Art Supplies‘ and ‘Patty’s Books Shop‘. There are curiosities, like the wooden-seeming identical twins who wait and watch the passing crew, who head home with pumpkins, milkshakes and toffee apple.

To create rhymes that scan perfectly, with such descriptive vocabulary, as Patricia Toht does, is no mean feat. She instructs us how to carve the pumpkin, what to do after carving, ‘first it’s time for decorations!’ This is gifted writing!

I love the hints of Halloween season, like the cats, crows and spiders. When we arrive at the big reveal of the carved pumpkin, Jarvis draws our eyes into a visual feast, ‘LOOK!/ It’s not a pumpkin/ any more./ It’s a…’

‘Pick a Pumpkin’ is a sensational picture book. There are layers of meaning, humour, seasonal delight, perfect rhymes and glorious pictures. Go on…. ‘Pick a Pumpkin’ 

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Pick a Pumpkin

Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis

(Walker Books)

‘Pick a pumpkin /from the patch-‘…. We join a trio en route to the pumpkin farm. Birds swirl in the autumn misted sky. There are autumn leaves, bold crayon flashes, and a season haze cast over the scene. We follow the signs on the scarecrow and the old truck that direct us to the pumpkin patch. Crows and a black cat, ambling along a wooden fence, watch our progress.
Which pumpkins to choose? ‘Vivid orange,/ ghostly white/ or speckled green/ might be just right.’ There are other pumpkin- pickers. Our trio have three pumpkins to decide upon. One pumpkin’s shouting from a trailer, ‘Pick me!‘ Another calls from a barrel ‘Pick me!’ The farm assistant watches ambivalently, yet the black cat and the crows are thoroughly engaged.
We watch the progress of a Halloween pilgrimage from arrival at the farm, to a ‘blazing, snickering, grinning Jack O’Lantern’. Patricia Toht‘s perfect rhymes describe and elevate the scene and the festival. Jarvis’s rich, fulsome, bewitching pictures extend the meaning, wonder and possibilities. Patricia Toht and Jarvis are the team behind the Christmas classic Pick a Pine Tree. We welcome ‘Pick a Pumpkin’ 


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