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The Ugly Pumpkin

Last updated Friday, November 4, 2005

Author: Dave Horowitz
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0399242678
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2005

Synopsis: In this story that echoes Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, a very odd-looking pumpkin encounters harsh rejections, mainly from creatures associated with Halloween. The book contains an inventive, amusing, and surprising compilation of words and illustrations. The minimal text is rhymed, sometimes settling comfortably into a quiet corner of the riotously colorful illustrations and occasionally entering into the vivid tableau. Some children might find the wild depictions of skeletons and the creepy sneers of gnarled trees alarming, but the bright colors, bouncy rhymes, and engaging pumpkin (that turns out to be something else altogether) combine to make this a charming book on the whole, with a happy and surprising ending.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Look at the cover: why do you think the pumpkin looks so sad?
•  Do you think the pumpkin is ugly?
•  Have you ever been teased before? How did that feel?
•  What is Thanksgiving? What kinds of food do you eat on Thanksgiving?
•  The author says that his favorite holiday is Thanksgiving -- what is your favorite holiday?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What happens when the pumpkin asks for a ride from the skeleton?
•  What do the trees do to him?
•  Why is the pumpkin sad?
•  How does the pumpkin finally find a way to fit in?
•  What is a squash?
•  Is the squash happy in the end? Why?
•  Have you ever heard the story of the Ugly Duckling? Is that like this story?

Craft ideas:
•  Volunteers cut out funny squash shapes, and have the children draw themselves as squash. On the back of the squash, they can draw pictures of places where they feel like they belong.
•  Make leaf designs by placing a piece of paper over the leaf and rubbing a crayon over it. Bring ahead option: various kinds of leaves

Special activities:
•  Play pumpkin, pumpkin, squash! (Duck, duck, goose).

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!