Mildred misses her mother. She died when the 11-year-old was only six. But one thing Mildred remembers about her mother is how she loved Circleville, Ohio's pumpkin festival. So Mildred takes up growing pumpkins, big onesmake that huge onesall in hopes of winning the pumpkin show weigh-off. "I don't think I'm abnormally obsessive," Mildred says as the book opens, but frankly, anyone reading her story might beg to differ. Told in a first-person narrative, this novel offers a step-by-step, detailed explanation of how to grow giant pumpkins. Fortunately, there is more: Mildred's prickly relationship with her aunt; her satisfying bond with her veterinarian father (a rather graphic description of a calve's birthing is included); and a little about her friendship with other kids. But, mostly, this is about growing pumpkins. Interestingly, even readers with no particular interest in the topic are likely to be drawn in by Kennedy's straightforward narrative, as solid and unadorned as a pumpkin, yet lovely in its own way. Cooper, Ilene
About the Author
Marlane Kennedy moved to Circleville, Ohio, at age eleven. She participated in many Pumpkin Show parades as a child, but never tried growing her own giant pumpkin. But after writing Me and the Pumpkin Queen, she planted her own Howard Dill's Atlantic Giant seed and grew a 250-pounder, pictured above, that took fifth prize in her local fair. Marlane Kennedy is also the author of The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes. She lives in Wooster, Ohio, with her husband and three children.