Me and the Pumpkin Queen
Mildred has big plans. Big pumpkin plans. Not many 11-year-olds enter the Circleville Pumpkin Show giant pumpkin contest, but Mildred intends to win the whole thing this year.
Shes been trying to grow a giant pumpkin worthy of competition since her mom, a former Pumpkin Show queen, died when she was six. But, every year, something happens to wreck Mildreds plans. From accidents to acts of nature, something always keeps her pumpkins from being entered into the contest.
This year, the biggest obstacle seems to be her Aunt Arlene. Although she has the best of intentions, Aunt Arlene worries too much over Mildreds obsession with cultivating the greatest pumpkin ever. So what if other girls her age are interested in movie stars and the right clothes? Maybe Mildred has her reasons for caring more about a sprouting seed than a teen heart throb. Maybe Aunt Arlene should stop obsessing over Mildred.
The book is, perhaps ironically, reminiscent of the classic Peanuts special Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Mildreds quiet determination mirrors Linus as she continues to believe, well past the point when most people wouldve given up.
A seemingly simple plot, this one digs below the surface. Mildred appears to be tending to more than a pumpkin patch as she works toward the same goal, year after year. We watch her grow and mature right along with her pumpkin as she deals with memories of her mother and bonds with the father who was also left behind.