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The Pumpkin Runner Hardcover – September 1, 1998

10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though he may have the appearance of a tall tale hero, Arnold's (Heart of a Tiger) protagonist is inspired by a real 61-year-old Australian farmer who won a 542-mile race in 1983. Joshua Summerhayes, an eccentric sheep farmer from Blue Gum Creek, and his sidekick, Yellow Dog, enter the 12th annual Koala-K Race from Melbourne to Sydney. With the help of energizing slices of pumpkins that grow "round as a wombat's belly," they finish first together and share the $10,000 prize money with the other runners. Arnold's loquacious storyteller style and the farmer's aw-shucks humility lend a hardy, ageless humor to the somewhat meandering plot. Sneed (Smoky Mountain Rose) revels in the contrasts between the farmer's sense of generosity and his workaday attire, set against depictions of the single-mindedness and swaggering bravado of the other runners in their fancy shoes and shorts. When the villain, Damien Dodgerelle, brags that he has "run two hundred kilometers a week for three months training for this race," Joshua says simply, "I just check my herds, from sunup to sundown." As the other runners lift 300-pound weights, perform one-handed push-ups and drink power fluids, Joshua stands in his blue bib overalls and orange gum boots and eats pumpkin stewAand runs for the love of it. Sneed's cleverly skewed perspectives and Arnold's engaging style make this book, like its star, an easy winner. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3-With a Woolly Boolly Barbecue, wombats, eucalyptus trees, Platypus Pond, and a famous Koala-K Race in evidence, readers know that this picture book takes place in Australia. A curious mix of tall tale and morality lesson, the plot is pegged on a true incident of a race run and won by a 61-year-old farmer who outdistanced much younger and supposedly better-trained opponents. Long-legged, overall-clad Joshua Summerhayes trains by herding sheep on his ranch, runs in gumboots, gulps down all manner of pumpkin concoctions as fuel, and splits his $10,000 winnings with his competitors. The oils-on-canvas paintings, awash in warm oranges and dappled pastels, shine through wide-open spaces. The rancher's "Ah, shucks" nature combines with his large, almost disproportionate body to create a Paul Bunyan-like figure. Although there are moments of tension in the race and positive feelings for the underdog, the text is not as strong as the artwork. The story ambles along with more or less simple declarative sentences that do not engage readers or sustain the tall-tale quality of the events described. All in all, a pedestrian effort.
Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; 1st edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803721242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803721241
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 0.3 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Called a "born storyteller" by the media, Marsha Diane Arnold wrote the
award-winning "homegrown treasures" column prior to penning eleven award-winning picture books. These include Heart of a Tiger, named Best First Book by a New Author, The Pumpkin Runner, a Smithsonian Notable, and Roar of a Snore which was selected three times for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Marsha has five new books coming out in 2016, including Lost. Found. from Neal Porter Books and Waiting for Snow from Houghton Mifflin.

Her stories have been called "wacky," "whimsical," "inspiring," "beguiling," "heartwarming," "uplifting," "great read-alouds," and "a must-have for all libraries".

When not creating imaginative worlds and wacky characters at her home in Florida, Marsha enjoys traveling the world, scuba diving, and (like her characters) always trying new things. To learn more about Marsha's books or to contact her, visit www.marshadianearnold.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill Bredal on October 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This story has my six year old pretending to eat slices of pumpkin before he zooms off into the distance! It is a compelling tale of an old bloke who beats the odds by just doing what works for him. What I like best about this story, besides it being based on reality, is that it makes folks think about what elders can do, or indeed what people can accomplish, just by being utterly themselves. It's an updated 'tortoise and the hare' fable, really. Incidentally, I found the laconic, modest character of Joshua to be distinctly Australian, having lived there for four years. It's great!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carol A. Nelson on July 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bright colorful pictures and down home language make this picture book a favorite with both younger and older children. Based on a true story, this book has a lesson to teach - persevere with those who are unkind. Stick with your goals. Continue to be kind despite opposition. This picture book is pulled out again and again in our home.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What a good one on one read this one is...as a matter of fact, it makes a very nice group read too!

As noted by the author, this children's book is based on the true story and was inspired by a fellow in Australia, Cliff Young, who at the age of 61 meandered through the famous (infamous race...depending on how you look at it) from Sydney to Melbourne, a total of 542 miles, and actually won; beating all of the younger contenders! Like the hero of the story featured in this book, Cliff shared the $10,000.00 winnings with the other participants of the race. Our book hero, like Cliff, is around 61 years old.

This is the story of an old sheep rancher, Joshua Summerhayes and his dog, which goes by the name of Yellow Dog. From a small lad, Joshua ran; he ran everywhere, but for the most part ran after his sheep and back and forth from the family pumpkin patch. He and the great-great-great grandparent of Yellow Dog ran after the sheep, taking care of the flock on into the current times when others used trucks, jeeps, planes, motorcycles and such. No, Joshua and Yellow dog did it my foot and a goodly run, with Joshua wearing only his gumboots as foot wear.

Joshua was for the most part fueled by Pumpkins. He simply could not get enough of the wonderful pumpkins his family raised in their own patch. One day, when Joshua, now an old man, and Yellow Dog, no longer a puppy himself, were setting on the porch after a long run over to Bandicoot Creek, Joshua read a flyer advertising the 12 Annual Koalo-K Race. He and Yellow Dog decide to run.

What follows is a story of that race; of Joshua and Yellow Dog, of gum boots and slices of pumpkin to keep him going.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This story seems entirely fictitious until you get to the end and realize the main character of the story was inspired by a real man who ran a 900 kilometer race from Melbourne to Sydney and one a $10,000 prize, only to split his winnings with the other contestants. The farmer in the story, who derives his energy from eating fresh pumpkins runs everywhere on his farm. He is extremely fit despite his age and insists on racing in his overalls and work boots.
This book, which is beautifully illustrated by Brad Sneed, will inspire children to follow their hearts and dreams and to disregard the negative comments often shared by others.

~DeeDee Fox, Author of The Ruby Red Slippers
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Format: Hardcover
The Pumpkin Runner is a great book for parents to read to their children, especially those parents who are runners. Few are the books that spin a tale about the sports we love. Children need to be exposed to the challenges and rewards of participating in sports. Taken from a true story of ultramarathoner Cliff Young, The Pumpkin Runner has fantastic colors in vivid artwork to hold a child's attention. Adults will smile as Joshua runs the race of his life in a carefree way that shows children of all ages that sometimes we just need to have fun--and the rewards will come.
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