Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great story for all ages
Cons: One scene won't appeal to boys
The Bottom Line:
A moving debut
That sneaks up and pulls you in
An author to watch

Mildred and the Giant Pumpkins

Mildred may only be eleven years old, but she has an obsession. Unlike most girls her age, it isn't clothes or boys. It's giant pumpkins.

Now this isn't as strange as it sounds. Mildred lives in Circleville, Ohio, and has spent every October enjoying the annual pumpkin festival. The display of giant pumpkins always fascinated her mother, and her mother always planned to try to grow one herself some day.

The year Mildred's mother died, Mildred decided to grow a giant pumpkin herself. Over the last five years, she has learned everything she can. And over the last five years, something has happened every year to ruin her chances. Will this be the year that Mildred is able to submit a pumpkin of her own for the contest?

This book may be targeted to elementary school kids, but I thoroughly loved it. All the characters are wonderful and real. Mildred is quite obviously dealing with the loss of her mother, yet it is always in the background. Her relationship with her father is very close, and I enjoyed seeing that. Even the aunt who thinks that Mildred needs to give up her pumpkin growing is realistic, well drawn, and likable in her own way.

I have no interest in growing pumpkins period, but I got so caught up in the story, I felt every joy and set back right along with Mildred. And the obstacles that Mildred faces along the way are realistic. I got so caught up in the simple tale, I had a hard time putting the book down. The ending was absolutely perfect.

The first couple chapters were only a couple pages each, and that made it a little harder to get lost in the story from page one. But the book soon overcame that. What I found more interesting about the writing style was the constant switching from present to past tense. Mildred narrates the book, and anything currently happening is told is present tense while any time she tells us about something from the past, the narration switches to past tense. To be honest, I caught it only because I was looking for it. The switches are done so smoothly that most people will never notice.

Since this is a coming of age book, there are a couple scenes that might make boys uncomfortable involving Mildred getting her first bras. For this man, they were worth noting only in passing.

This is author Marlane Kennedy's first novel but hopefully not her last. Me and the Pumpkin Queen will easily entertain the target audience of kids as well any adult to picks it up.

This review is my entry in this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.  Stop by Shannon Messenger's blog to see what else everyone is posting about.


  1. Thanks for sharing. This sounds like a good one, I'll have to see if I can find a copy!

    1. Yes, do track down a copy. It's well worth reading.

  2. This sounds like such a good book. I love to garden and think it is great that she is so into pumpkins. :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. If you love to garden, I bet you'd really enjoy this book.