This is one of those books that sneaks up on you. It caught me off guard. Based on some positive reviews I’d read and the back cover blurb, I expected it to be cute. I thought I’d kind of like it. I didn’t expect to be so swept up in Mildred’s quest to grow the perfect giant pumpkin that I was tempted to ignore my 7th period English class today.
But I was.
Marlane Kennedy captures the voice of a fifth grader who has settled into life with her dad after her mother’s death and explores the very real issues that face fifth grade girls – shopping for a first bra, getting ears pierced, and dealing with a bossy aunt. I found hints of Judy Blume in the coming of age parts of this book and big servings of warm humor on just about every page. Add to that one huge issue – growing a HUGE pumpkin, and protecting it from bugs, fungus, drought, and tornadoes – and you have one amazing book.
I was enchanted by the story and terribly intrigued by the process of growing a giant pumpkin. I kind of want to try and grow one myself now. Mostly, though, I want to stand up and cheer for Mildred and for Marlane Kennedy. ME AND THE PUMPKIN QUEEN is a little book with a giant-pumpkin sized heart.