Reviews for Ready for Pumpkins

Booklist Reviews 2012 August #1
Guinea pig Hercules enjoys being the first-grade class pet, even inspiring a Halloween "Herk-o-Lantern." Spring's class gardening project prompts dreams of his own garden, and opportunity arises while summering in the country. There he befriends rabbit Daisy, a gardening aficionado, who offers planting assistance and advice. However, waiting for seeds to sprout seems endless ("they don't grow faster if you jump up and down and stamp your feet"), but creating pumpkin songs and poems with Daisy helps pass the time. Alas, before the pumpkins ripen, it's back-to-school time. Hercules' peppy first-person account makes for an entertaining read, while cartoonish watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations add playful touches, like Hercules singing on top of an overturned flowerpot, with Daisy accompanying on bucket drums. Comic-style panels and word balloons appear throughout, lending liveliness and dimension. While pumpkin specific, this is a charming, kid-friendly gardening tale that touches upon the challenges of being patient, finding pleasure in the process, and enjoying sweet anticipation. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Classroom pet guinea pig Herky gets a gardening itch after he watches the first graders' seeds grow. Off in the country for summer vacation, he plants some pumpkin seeds with his rabbit friend Daisy. Most pumpkin books focus on the end product; this one focuses on the joys and challenges of the gardening process, and Duke communicates Herky's every feeling with deftly expressive lines.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #5
Classroom pet guinea pig Hercules, nicknamed Herky, gets an itch for gardening after he watches the first graders plant seeds and sees how they grow. Off in the country for summer vacation, he gets a chance to plant some pumpkin seeds with the help of his rabbit friend Daisy. Like most child-gardeners, Herky is impatient waiting for his seeds to sprout, discovering that "they don't grow faster if you yell at them...They won't grow at all if you dig them up to see what they are doing." Then, once the seeds do sprout, along come the bugs and birds -- depicted wearing little robber masks -- which requires more patience. Most pumpkin books focus on the pumpkin at the end; this one focuses on the joys and challenges of the gardening process, and Duke communicates Herky's every feeling with deftly expressive lines. Daisy watches and assists, usually while nibbling something, and occasionally tells Herky to "cool it," providing a mature contrast to Herky's exuberance. The plot is simple, and children will find many delights in the pictures, which alternate between small vignettes and more spacious paintings, allowing pre-readers to "re-read" the story to themselves. susan dove lempke

Kirkus Reviews 2012 July #1
Herky (short for Hercules) is one lucky guinea pig--perhaps the only one with his own garden. A first-grade class pet, he enjoys having the kids fawn over him and teach him things. In the spring, after noticing the delicious-looking green bean plants the class cultivated, Herky catches the gardening bug and finds a use for the seeds he squirreled away last Halloween. Summering in the country, Herky puts his escape skills to good use, meets a new rabbit-friend, Daisy, and learns that gardening isn't about instant gratification. Indeed, this is one of the book's greatest assets. Duke has captured the difficulty of waiting for the plants to grow, which many other garden-themed books miss or gloss over. And the garden-isms that Herky enumerates are sure to raise smiles. "A garden is not a place to be angry in." When paired with Duke's watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork, readers certainly won't feel angry, though they will feel empathetic with the adorably impatient guinea pig as he stamps his feet and digs up his seeds to see what they are doing, besides not growing. As Herky says, "…you can't stay sad for long when you have had a garden"--nor when you have read about Herky and his first gardening experience. (Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #2

Guinea pigs are something of a specialty for Duke (The Guinea Pig ABC; One Guinea Pig Is Not Enough), and her newest one, Hercules, is a real charmer ("You can call me Herky!" he announces in a speech bubble on the opening page). While most classroom guinea pig stories take place during the school year, Duke is more interested in Herky's extracurricular hobby: growing pumpkins. On "vacation" in the country (a student's parent's farm) over the summer, Herky enlists the help of a rabbit named Daisy in putting together a pumpkin patch (never mind that Daisy's idea of help is to munch leaves and say, "Good job!"). Duke's story brims with humor of both the classroom and animal-buddy varieties, and her featherlight paintings capture every ounce of Herky's enthusiasm, impatience, and eventual satisfaction. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 June

K-Gr 2--Hercules is a guinea pig in a first-grade classroom. When the kids make jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween, Herky saves some of the seeds. During the summer he is taken to a farm owned by the teacher's dad. There he befriends the resident rabbit and together they plant the seeds. Then the wait begins. The guinea pig is impatient, while Daisy tells him to "Cool it." To pass the time they tell stories, sing songs, and make up poems. Finally the stalks start growing and make a lush garden. Herky is quite dismayed when birds and bugs arrive and start nibbling on the flowers, but again Daisy is the voice of reason. There is enough for everyone. With the coming of fall, Herky is taken back to the school, and he misses his friend and the pumpkin patch. The farmer shows up in the classroom with a basket of pumpkins, saying he has no idea how they got planted. The students and the guinea pig start the cycle all over again, carving jack-o'-lanterns and saving seeds. The pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures are perfect for the story. Herky is expressively drawn and adorable. This title will join the list of pumpkin classics so popular every fall.--Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI

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