Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston

The Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Tomie DePaola

Rating: 4 stars

With wonderful, just-spooky-enough illustrations by the one and only Tomie DePaola, Johnston's silly, just-spooky-enough story unravels:  A (to say it nicely) elderly couple--a 700-year-old woman and 800-year-old man--simply wants to bake a nice pumpkin pie when they realize their pumpkin has vanished.  They go to find it, accusing everyone in their path of swiping it.  The pattern--first with a ghoul, then a rapscallion, followed by a varmint, then finally a wizard, is the same:

When told that he is guilty of stealing a giant pumpkin the creature looks around himself in a silly, kid-giggle-inducing fashion but cannot find it.  The annoyed-for-no-reason Old Man does a trick on the creature in order to prove that it is hiding the pumpkin somewhere.  The ghoul is turned invisible, the rapscallion is turned upside down in the air, the varmint is turned into a flea-filled cat, and the wizard...  oh wait, you can't trick a wizard or he'll trick you right back.  Each trick is applauded by the Old Man and the Old Woman and even the trickee himself.

It turns out that the wizard hasn't snitched the pumpkin--he's borrowed it so he could make a smiley jack-o-lantern.  And he's baked the pumpkin pie (which he's forgotten is under his hat) to share.

Johnston adds in some quirky quips that kept me chuckling: "Lucky lizards!" and "Snitched!" and "Don't be fresh with an 800-year-old man!" and "Great grizzlies!"

This is a very cute, slightly older Halloween book (1983!) that most kids probably haven't seen before...a great one to read at a Halloween party near you!

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