Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White Summary and Preschool Lesson Ideas
Too Many Pumpkins Summary
by Linda White (ISBN 0823412458) is the best kind of children's picture book: it is an original interesting story with an important message for its readers. When a white-haired woman named Rebecca Estelle discovers that the pumpkin truck has dropped a pumpkin in her yard she studiously ignores it through the seasons. Too Many Pumpkins
Rebecca Estelle hates pumpkins with a passion, because she was forced to eat them as a little girl during a time when her family was struggling with financial worries. Everything about pumpkins reminds her of a time when all her family had to eat was pumpkins! So when the pumpkin truck delivers a ripe pumpkin into her garden with a splat, Rebecca Estelle decides to judiciously ignore the pumpkin, and eventually the tenaciously growing vines in her garden. She decides that if she doesn't tend it and doesn't water the plants, her pumpkin problem will go away. But untended the pumpkin vines flourish, and Rebecca Estelled discovers she has a problem of epic proportions on her hands: too many pumpkins!
But the lessons of Rebecca Estelle's childhood bore better fruit than a sense of paucity and lack. Rebecca Estelle learned from her childhood that pumpkins can be prepared a dozen different ways, and her sense of resourcefulness, thrift and generosity compel her to give the pumpkins away. With much hard work and preparation, she makes enough pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin seeds to feed her entire town. Out of nothing, Rebecca Estelle makes something marvelous: a harvest feast she shares with the entire town.
The moral of this story? When life gives you pumpkins, prepare a feast!
Megan Lloyd's sprawling and humorous depictions of each scene in the story, each exploding with orange and greens, transform a good, plot-driven picture book into a must-read-every-year kind of story. Anyone who has every grown pumpkins, summer squash, or any other type of prolific garden fare will appreciate the simple truth that a bountiful harvest deserves to be shared.
Linda White's story spans the seasons, but its focus is on fall, and this children's picture book will be appropriate reading from September through November, but you can enjoy it any time of the year. And with its final pages filled with glowing Jack-o-lanterns, this book would be a great selection for Halloween too!
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Preschool and Storytime Lesson Planning with this Book
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White has many lesson-planning possibilities for preschool and elementary-aged classrooms on gardening, harvest, autumn, seeds, celebrations (such as Halloween or Thanksgiving), etc.
Related Preschool Themes
Music and Movement for Preschoolers
Music is an essential teaching tool in a storytime curriculum. It sets the tone and pace of a story hour, and can help keep small children continually engaged. I usually began my story hour with the famous action song "Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes."
A similar song with actions that help young preschoolers and toddlers to identify the parts of their body is Turn Around by Hap Palmer available on his album. This song is particulaly appropo as an ending song. I recently discovered Hap Palmer at my new city's library story hour. The children respond very positively to it! I strongly encourage you to explore this artist's musical offerings because every song he writes is appropriate for music and movement and circle time. Getting to Know Myself
Include Too Many Pumpkins in a unit about growing pumpkins and you can include one or both of the following movement activities:
Plant a seed and watch it grow!
Tell the children you are going to pretend to grow a pumpkin from seed, and you need them to help you pretend you are growing a magic garden full of small, medium, and even giant sized pumpkins.
- Get your the seed (Pantomime holding the seed between your forefinger and thumb).
- Put it in your pocket (pretend to put the seed in your pocket for safe keeping)
- Walk to the garden and look for a good spot to plant. (pretend to shield your eyes from the sun as you spot a planting location.)
- Dig a hole in the dirt. (Tell everyone they need to pick up their shovels and dig a nice hole. Pantomime the digging action).
- Pull the seed from your pocket and put it in the hole.
- Cover the seed with the dirt.
- Pick up your watering can, and water it.
- Wait! (Pretend to look at your watch.)
- Wait some more. (Tap your toes impatiently.)
- Wow, see how fast my pumpkin grew! My pumpkin is huge. (Place your hands wide apart to show your pumpkin).
Activities and Explorations
- Bake Pumpkin Seeds. Scoop out the slimy insides of a pumpkin and allow children to feel the slippery texture of the pumpkin and pick out seeds to roast in the oven. If you are working with your own children or a small preschool group this can be a manageable activity.
- Plant pumpkin seeds in paper cups. Bring a small dishwashing tub full of potting soil and have children select seeds from a pumpkin. Help children to plant and water their pumpkin seeds.
- Decorate Jack-O-Lanterns. Cut out pumpkin shapes on orange paper, and try to allow children as much creative freedom as possible by giving them a variety of pre-cut shapes to use for eyes, nose and mouth. Also offer crayons or markers if children are old enough so they can draw their own pumpkin faces.
Related Children's Books: Garden Magic, Pumpkins, and Halloween
- The Bumpy Little Pumpkin by Margery Culyer tells about Little Nell, Big Mama, and her sisters, Big Sarah and Big Lizzie. Everyone in Nell's family is carving a pumpkin. When they all go to the pumpkin patch to select their pumpkins, the older family members tease Nell about her choice of a bumpy little pumpkin. But Nell follows her heart and makes a choice that is just right for her. This story has a theme of independence and self concept but echoes the themes of big and little found in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This book is a solid selection for fall reading because it more than a book about discovering nature or celebrating a holiday.
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstien (ISBN 0060586753, Ages 7 and Up) A tree gives everything to the boy she loves. Like Too Many Pumpkins, this story has a timeless message of sharing and generosity.
- Scarlette Beane by Karen Wallace (ISBN 0142300918, Ages 4-8) Scarlette works magic as she grows fantastic vegetables with the ultimate green thumb.
- Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson (ISBN 1582460787, Ages 4-8). The life cycle of a pumpkin is depicted beautifully in this story.
- Flower Garden by Eve Bunting (ISBN 0152023720, Ages 3-8). This story about a young girl who lives with her family in a bustling city shows that a garden can be planted anywhere, even in an apartment high above city streets. The young girl in this story plants a flower box for her mother's birthday as a surprise. It is the beautiful oil paintings in this very simple book that steal the show.
- The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (ISBN 0689842449, Ages 3-8). This story about a tiny little seed that survives a long journey against the wind and elements and grows into a giant flower is a fun introduction into the life-cycle of a plant but is written to a younger audience's viewpoint, and of course includes Eric Carle's trademark collage art.
- It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall. This preschool-oriented garden romp wanders through the season from fall to fall, through the life cycle of a pumpkin. Cute illustrations, pacing, and storyline make this a good selection for preschool reading. Read my full review of this book by clicking on the title.
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