The best books about pumpkins

1 authors have picked their favorite books about pumpkins and why they recommend each book.

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The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

By Joe Troiano, Susan Banta (illustrator),

Book cover of The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin is a fun Halloween read, but more importantly a wonderful story that shows the importance of acceptance. Spookley is unlike any other pumpkin in the patch because he is square instead of round. At first, the other pumpkins tease Spookley and are unkind to him because he is different. After a storm blows in and Spookley saves the day, the other pumpkins realize it doesn’t matter what Spookley looks like, what matters is the kind of pumpkin he is and how he showed kindness to others.


Who am I?

I am an award-winning children’s picture book author who writes stories about obstacles children encounter, focusing on the emotional and mental health of the character so children facing similar situations are able to relate. I have been writing poems and short stories since I was a child and all of my stories are written in rhyme. I love reading a rhyming book out loud and listening to the story unfold.


I wrote...

Soar

By Hillary Daecher, Angie Hohenadel (illustrator),

Book cover of Soar

What is my book about?

Ramone, a shy Ruby-throated hummingbird is about to leave the nest for the first time. But his anxiety and fear keep him from taking off as he contemplates all that could go wrong.

Full of kind words and encouragement, Ramone’s mother gives him room to work through his various emotions, building his confidence and letting him set his own pace. Ramone watches as his friends soar through the sky, realizing all he might miss out on if he doesn’t conquer his fear. Ramone’s adventure showcases the emotions, both positive and negative, children experience as they approach new challenges. Accompanied by strikingly beautiful illustrations, this tale guides readers through Ramone’s emotional journey, showing kids that fear must be overcome in order to grow.

Pumpkin

By Cindy Ott,

Book cover of Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon

Not only is this a complete history of pumpkins – it’s a fascinating history of America. There’s good, solid jack-o-lantern history alongside descriptions and photos of the gazillion ways we celebrate, decorate, grow, eat, idolize, and display pumpkins. Emerging as a symbol of lust in medieval Europe, the pumpkin became synonymous with the American wilderness, then came to stand for rustic life, and now Halloween. If you like history and Americana as well as Halloween, you’ll like this one. And if you’re a Halloween nerd like I am, you’ll love the 100 pages of footnotes.


Who am I?

I have loved Halloween since I ran through the suburban streets of southern Connecticut with ears and a tail. For more than thirty years I’ve been researching and writing about the holiday, and each year I find something new. Most of all, I’m a Halloween advocate: At Halloween we can wrap our arms around the reality of the other 364 days and satirize, exorcize, and celebrate it. The joy of Halloween is not that it’s dark and we revel in that; it’s that Halloween can bring a bit of light and laughter into the darkness. And, of course, it’s big, creative, candy-fueled fun.


I wrote...

Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night

By Lesley Pratt Bannatyne,

Book cover of Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night

What is my book about?

On a mission to define 21st century Halloween, I talked with fanatics and fang makers, professional haunters, registered mediums, psychologists, and Halloween enthusiasts ranging from NPR's Garrison Keillor to The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror" writer Mike Reiss to find out what goes on behind the scenes at prop shops and national Halloween conventions, at quiet commemorations of Samhain, giant pumpkin festivals, zombie crawls, parades, haunts, ghost stake-outs, and so much more. How is it that this boisterous celebration unites us in a community based on fantasy and fear, and what draws us together on this one night when we open our doors to strangers? If you love Halloween, really love Halloween, this book is for you. Chances are pretty good it's probably about you, too.

Biggest Pumpkin Ever

By Steven Kroll, Jeni Bassett (illustrator),

Book cover of Biggest Pumpkin Ever

Two adorable mice enter a contest, one to carve the biggest jack-o’-lantern ever, the other to grow the biggest pumpkin ever. It turns out that they fall in love with the same pumpkin. One waters it during the day. The other waters it at night. Neither mouse knows about the other’s efforts. When they discover that they’re each contributing to the same pumpkin’s growth, they decide to work together to win the competition. This classic book with endearing illustrations will appeal to kids who love pumpkins and who value cooperative effort to achieve success.


Who am I?

I’ve spent my career as a publisher, editor, and writer of children’s books, having worked for or published with Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Amazon, and other houses. Having written and edited a number of Halloween stories, I’m always on the lookout for new ones—and I also enjoy going back and reading the classics in this genre as well. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a haunted house or because I’m the youngest of nine kids who celebrated Halloween in a big way. I retired from full-time work a few years ago and now devote my time to writing children’s books and consulting. We’ve just moved into a new house, and who knows? Maybe it’s haunted!


I wrote...

Bonaparte Falls Apart

By Margery Cuyler,

Book cover of Bonaparte Falls Apart

What is my book about?

Bonaparte is a skeleton whose bones keep falling off. When he plays catch, his arm takes a flyer. Eating lunch is a real jaw-dropping experience. How can he start school when he worries others will make fun of him? His friends, Franky Stein, Blacky Widow, and Mummicula try to help him, but none of their ideas work. Then the perfect solution comes along when Bonaparte meets a pup that enthusiastically likes to retrieve bones.

Too Many Pumpkins

By Linda White, Megan Lloyd (illustrator),

Book cover of Too Many Pumpkins

Rebecca Estelle hates pumpkins—and this is something kids can hardly imagine. (Certainly, the gorgeous art makes you wonder how anyone could hate pumpkins!) But Rebecca Estelle had a chapter in life where pumpkins were pretty much all she had to eat and so she is sick of them.

However, when she accidentally grows an enormous pumpkin patch, Rebecca Estelle has to deal with the loathed pumpkins. And deal with them she does—pies and muffins and tarts and cookies and roasted seeds come out of her kitchen. She carves fabulous jack-o-lanterns (a magical two-page spread!) and her neighbors show up. “We thought you hated pumpkins!” they say. And Rebecca Estelle presses pumpkin treats and seeds into their hands.


Who am I?

I am a children’s author who loves to eat and bake and cook and gather with others around a table. My writing somehow always has details about people coming together around favorite foods and drinks, enjoying the company of family and friends. Is it any wonder these are the sorts of books I love to read, as well?


I wrote...

Around the Table That Grandad Built

By Melanie Heuiser Hill, Jaime Kim (illustrator),

Book cover of Around the Table That Grandad Built

What is my book about?

In a unique take on the cumulative classic This Is the House That Jack Built, a family gathers with friends and neighbors to share a meal around a table that brims with associations: napkins sewn by Mom, glasses from Mom and Dad’s wedding, silverware gifted to Dad by his grandma long ago. Not to mention the squash from the garden, the bread baked by Gran, and the pies made by the young narrator (with a little help). Serving up a diverse array of dishes and faces, this warm and welcoming story is poised to become a savored part of Thanksgiving traditions to come.

A beautifully illustrated celebration of bounty and gratitude, family and friendship, perfect for the holidays and every day.

The Rough Patch

By Brian Lies,

Book cover of The Rough Patch

Even though we always talk about how anger is part of grief, it is hard to truly understand the rage that can accompany losing someone until it happens to you. This goes doubly for children with even less control of their emotions. 

In The Rough Patch, Evan, a master gardener, deals with the aftermath of the death of his beloved pet dog. In a fit of rage, he rips out and completely destroys his garden, then only allows ugly and prickly weeds to grow, until one day, new life finds a way in.

A great way to let yourself and your young children know that anger and wanting to destroy things is very normal, and even though it doesn’t feel like it, new things will grow.


Who am I?

In the past ten years, I have had to guide my young children through two unexpected and tragic deaths of loved ones. Both times, I was struggling with my own grief and wasn’t sure what my kids understood or didn’t. I made a lot of mistakes (as my son’s therapist can attest) but through it all, I learned a great deal about how much children notice, how deeply they feel a loss, and how to tend to our own grief and our children’s. From that pain, I wrote You’ll Find Me, and since then, have been able to use that book as a jumping-off point to discuss grief with others.


I wrote...

You'll Find Me

By Amanda Rawson Hill, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of You'll Find Me

What is my book about?

Loss becomes remembrance in this book that offers tender ways to pay tribute to, and meaningfully incorporate, a loved one’s lost presence into present and future life experiences. Be it departed friends, family, pets, and more, memories can carry us beyond the precious moments we have together to keep the ones we loved before in mind forever.

Throughout the book the omnipresent narrator encourages thoughtful reflection on the empty spaces left by the loss. The gentle scenes portrayed inspire recovery from sadness and honor those who are absent. This lyrical heartful story provides consent and gently encourages readers to move to a place of peace and acceptance despite the absence.

Stumpkin

By Lucy Ruth Cummins,

Book cover of Stumpkin

The simplicity of the illustrations here is so marvelous and cute! I love how this book shows that you don’t have to be just like the other pumpkins—or the other kids—to be happy and find your place in the world. This is a nice, short one (which is so needed for bedtime), and the pages where the pumpkin is getting carved are so striking and illustrated. Don’t worry, kids won’t be scared about the dear pumpkin getting carved—it’s presented as the pumpkin’s biggest dream to be a jack o’ lantern! 


Who am I?

I am a huge fan of Halloween and love decorating my porch to greet our neighborhood kids. This past year I gave away a couple dozen copies of my own picture books along with candy, which was a huge hit. I live in Baltimore with my family, including my silly, spooky kid, and love animals, especially dogs and horses. This past Halloween, my daughter wanted to dress up as a dentist, of all things, so my husband and I went along dressed up as giant teeth. She never got the irony of asking for candy while dressed as a dentist. We’ll have to wait until she is older for that. 


I wrote...

Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat

By Tracy C. Gold, Nancy Leschnikoff (illustrator),

Book cover of Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat

What is my book about?

An adorable rhyming Halloween book with educational nonfiction elements woven in, perfect for classrooms and libraries!

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me lots of bugs to eat! Follow along as a young bat takes flight on Halloween night and eats lots of delicious bugs along the way! Includes educational back matter with lots of fun facts about bats and their favorite insects.

How to Help a Pumpkin Grow

By Ashley Wolff,

Book cover of How to Help a Pumpkin Grow

What I loved most about Ashley Wolff’s How to Help a Pumpkin Grow was her color! This luscious book is filled with gorgeous, intense full-spectrum color! Wolff’s wet on wet washes flow seamlessly into each other as a base layer. I am guessing, there may be some smooth pastel added to enhance the color in places. Wolff’s adept painting skill brings out details with multi-colored painted line work on top of the washes. 

Unusual touches like the addition of saturated royal blue to highlight the black coat of the dog and crow feathers add an interesting pop of color. The great asset of acrylic gouache is that it can be both transparent or opaque, enabling Wolff to add light line work on top of dark washes.

Gorgeous work, Ashley Wolff!


Who am I?

I grew up next to a cemetery, and being an avid young artist, I loved to draw all kinds of monsters and spooky themes. Halloween books are a perfect way to express my creepy…but not too creepy side. When I look at Halloween picture books, I'm immediately focused on the pictures, long before I read the story. What medium did the artist use? How do they depict night scenes? Are they realistic or stylized? How interesting are their characters? Halloween picture books are a perfect way to create moody and somewhat scary scenes that balance the creepy with the not-so-creepy. Kids love to be scared, but we don’t want to give them nightmares! 


I wrote...

Goblin Moon

By Jacqueline Rogers,

Book cover of Goblin Moon

What is my book about?

This charming picture book is perfect for spooky October nights. Snuggle up and enjoy this impish tale perfect for little goblins everywhere. With rhyming text and Jackie's signature style of illustration, this spirited story is just right for reading aloud. When old Goblin Moon rises on Halloween night, mischievous goblins come out with delight. They dance and swoon, they whoop and play, till one little girl helps them find their way!

B Is for Boo

By Greg Paprocki (illustrator),

Book cover of B Is for Boo: A Halloween Alphabet

It might be unusual to choose an alphabet book intended for babies and toddlers in a selection of Halloween books, but the art in this book and others in this series is worth collecting, even if you don’t have little ones to share the book with. There have been a lot of little ones reading books on my lap over the years, both my own children and now grandchildren, and I’ve learned that there are certain favorites that I might as well keep close at hand rather than shelve in the hallway with the other picture books. A few years ago I stumbled across B Is for Boo, and I loved the illustrations so much that I have collected nearly a dozen more books in Greg Paprocki’s series of alphabet books. The illustration style might best be described as “retro,” and whether readers grew up in the 1960s like…


Who am I?

The world opened to me in a safe space when I learned to read as a child, and by 6th grade, inspired by Jo March, I hoped to be an author and regularly hauled stacks of books home from the library. I had put aside my dream of writing until my marriage to Mark Buehner. It was his career as an illustrator that opened up a path for me, and together we have created many picture books, including the Snowmen at Night series. I’ve learned that stories are told with pictures as well as words, and beautiful picture books can be savored at any age.


I wrote...

Snowmen at Halloween

By Caralyn M. Buehner, Mark E. Buehner (illustrator),

Book cover of Snowmen at Halloween

What is my book about?

The snowmen are getting their Halloween costumes ready for the latest picture book in this New York Times bestselling series.

Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered... what do snowmen do when we’re not watching? After an early snowfall, a few kids build some snowmen before going trick-or-treating. And when the kids go off to bed, the snowmen have their own Halloween festival! There’s candy and apple-bobbing and costume contests and all sorts of autumn activities. When the kids wake up the next morning, the snowmen are gone… but they’ve left a very special message behind.

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