Monday, May 20, 2019

Warm, Engaging MG Novel Has Feel and Appeal of Timeless Classic

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Billie O'Brien has a busy summer ahead of her.  Not only will the 12-year-old be harvesting her bees' honey to sell in town, but she's also got to check her fishing traps, help her friend scoop llama poop (lots of llama poop), assist her dad with cheese making, and—most importantly—grow the biggest, best pumpkin she can so she can beat the socks off her former BFF in the pumpkin race that happens every fall on Madeline Island.  Sam Harrington cheated her out of her win last year and she can't forgive him for that.  The only way to get her revenge is to skunk him fair and square this year.

Of course, things aren't going to go smoothly when you've got cucumber beetles gorging on your pumpkins, an ex-BFF sabotaging your growing efforts, storms churning up your favorite fishing spot, and a mysterious stranger whose sudden appearance throws your family into a confusing whirl.  Can Billie survive a summer full of unpleasant surprises?  Can she beat Sam in the race?  As Billie stumbles through three months of hard work, stinging disappointment, trying challenges, and unexpected revelations, she will learn some valuable lessons about family, friendship, and, forgiveness.

The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young is a warm, engaging novel that has the feel and appeal of a timeless classic.  Its bucolic rural setting offers readers a unique, insider's view of farm life while emphasizing the value of kids helping out and working diligently to achieve their goals.  While The Pumpkin War is a slim novel, it's got lots going on inside.  It tells a fun, exciting story that's also touching and real.  Readers of any age can pick this one up and enjoy.  I certainly did.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Cynthia Lord)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Pumpkin War from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

10 comments:

  1. This sounds like it would be a really sweet read- at any time of the year, but summer and fall especially. I love the cover!

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    1. Even though the book is about pumpkins, it has a very summery feel since the story takes place from June - August. I love the cover, too!

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  2. The cover makes this one look old fashioned / classic-like as well. What a sweet story.

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    1. Definitely. It manages to feel contemporary, too, although there's no mention of the Internet, cell phones, t.v., etc. A classic that still feels modern -- I guess that's the definition of timeless!

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  3. I had my eye on this one, and it sounds like it as as adorable and sweet as I thought it would be.

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    1. It's super cute, but it does have some depth to it as well.

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  4. Is the target audience for this one Middle School or general YA? I love that cover art but the guys at McDonalds that I breakfast with twice a week might make fun of me if I came in with it (I usually carry a book in with me in case no one shows up that day but me.)

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    1. LOL. It's a children's book with an elementary school target audience. Do you have grandkids? You could use them as an excuse ...

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  5. Great review Susan. This looks like a good one to add to my library for my grandkids, especially because I grow pumpkins.

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    1. You grow pumpkins? That's awesome! One of the rules of the race in the book is that the kids who race have to grow the pumpkin on their own with no help from their parents. The book talks a lot about the process and how much work it can be, but also how rewarding. I think your grandkids will love it! I'm going to start reading it to my 10-year-old when we finish our current bedtime read.

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