Pumpkinhead (Eric A. Kimmel)


Halloween Week Day 1: Hello, friends. Welcome to Halloween Week! JJ and I will be reading a new Halloween-themed book every day this week, leading up to the 31st. For today’s book, we read Pumpkinhead, written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Steve Haskamp, the story of a curious little boy from an unusual village.

Pumpkinhead lives in Pumpkinville, where everyone has a pumpkin for a head. Pumpkinhead wonders if everyone in the world has a pumpkin for a head as well, and decides to walk out of town until he finds another village. He walks for a bit, then decides to rest by a lake, taking off his head and pointing it in the direction he was walking. While he’s asleep, some mischievous squirrels turn his head around, so that when he wakes up, he walks back to his own village – only he thinks that it’s another Pumpkinville, while his friends and family think that he is a different Pumpkinhead!

Listen, I’m going to be honest: I like almost every book JJ and I read to some degree, and most of my reviews are pretty positive. But this… this was one of the weirdest children’s books I’ve ever read, and the ending was straight up horrifying. After Pumpkinhead returns to his village (he went back to the lake and the squirrels tricked him again), he reports that there is another Pumpkinville where everyone looks like them, and his parents and friends confirm this by telling him about the visitor who looked just like him (because it WAS him), and the conclusion that the town draws is that they never need to leave town ever again (!), because “we now know that everybody in the world is just like us. And if they’re not, they ought to be!” 

WHAT?! So the lesson is xenophobia? Honestly, the book’s one redeeming quality is some colorful, if bizarre, illustrations. Beyond that, I am at a loss. Too long for baby bookworms, strange imagery, and a pretty awful moral. We do not recommend this one.

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