I read this book because A Year of Reading had it on their Newbery Hopefuls From our Reading Friends special series (Day 2). One of my goals that I hope to reach one day is to have read the Newbery book before it’s announced. When the ALA meeting rolls around, and they announce the winner, my dream is to shout, “That’s a great book, I’ve already read it!” Sadly, this has never happened to me. So, this year I’ve read a lot. If someone says they think it’s a Newbery contender, I’ve tried to check it out from the library. When A Year of Reading did their Newbery Hopefuls series, I made a list of books to check out from the library. Here is one of the gems that was recommended.
Me and the Pumpkin Queen
By Marlane Kennedy
Mildred was passionate about one thing: growing giant pumpkins. Her friends were obsessed with other things—basketball, cute boy actors—but not Mildred. She had an obsession of a different kind. Mildred’s dad was a veterinarian, who had a soft spot for unwanted animals. Her mother died of cancer (which by the way, is the third book in a row I’ve read with a mother who died of cancer) and her Aunt Arlene feels the need to take her under her wing.
Aunt Arlene wants to buy her clothes, doll her up, and make her think about things that girls her age think about. Mildred wants none of it. She wants to be able to grow her giant pumpkins. Her time, energy, and thoughts all go into winning a prize at the pumpkin show for the biggest pumpkin. She even consults a local farmer, a client of her dad’s, to find out what type of seeds she should use and get any growing tips he might have.
The whole growing season—from the day after the frost free date to the day of the pumpkin show—Mildred nurtures, protects, and worries over her pumpkins, until there is only one left.
This book has amazing voice. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a book about a girl who loves pumpkins, but Marlane Kennedy made me care about Mildred from the first chapter, and the first chapter was only two very short pages. I worried right along with Mildred and couldn’t believe she took a trip to visit relatives and left her little pumpkins in the hands of her daddy. But that’s what makes this book a good read—that I cared about what happened to those little pumpkins. Mildred has passion and makes the readers of her story share in her passion.
Thanks for the recommendation A Year of Reading!