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Mrs. McMurphy's Pumpkin

Last updated Friday, September 26, 2008

Author: Rick Walton
Illustrator: Delana Bettoli
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0060534095
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2008

Synopsis: From School Library Journal
This tale's classic storytelling structure makes it a natural for storytime. Four days before Halloween, a pumpkin with a "wicked grin" and no other facial features appears in Mrs. McMurphy's hallway. It threatens her, "When my teeth are here, I'll eat you," but she refuses to be cowed and carries it outside. The pumpkin mysteriously reappears inside her house on each of the following days, first with a "crooked nose" to add to the grin, then "two pointy ears," then "two mean eyes." Each time, it repeats its warning and the woman responds by sending it farther and farther away. Finally, on Halloween, the pumpkin returns once more, complete with "large, sharp teeth," and declares that it's ready to eat her. Mrs. McMurphy calmly replies, "We'll have to see about that," and ends up making a pie and serving delicious slices to her trick-or-treaters. Walton uses lots of repetition that invites young listeners to chant along. Done in gouache and acrylics, the folkloric illustrations are dominated by orange tones and filled with wonderful details. This is sure to be a Halloween favorite.

Note to readers:
•  Vocabulary: Crooked, floating, hushed, wicked

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Where does bacon come from?
•  What are the parts of your face?
•  How does that (damn) pumpkin keep getting back in her house?
•  Is it the same pumpkin each day?
•  Where is the North Pole?
•  Can pumpkins eat people?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What happened to the pumpkin?
•  Do you like pumpkin pie?
•  What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a pumpkin face/jack-o-lantern. Using orange paper, cut out the pumpkin shape for the kids and, if you have, cut out green stems. The kids can draw on the face or you can cut out other face pieces.
•  Draw a picture of the farm and the farm animals.

*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!