Josiah and Deja are seasonal best friends. Every fall they spend two months together working at DeKnock’s World Famous Pumpkin Patch, and then don’t see each other again until they return to work the following September. But this Halloween is different, it is their senior year of high school, and it is their last ever shift at the pumpkin patch. Josiah is hoping to secure the title of Most Valuable Pumpkin Patch Person for the fifth time, but Deja has a different plan. Her plan involves playing hooky from their final shift at the Succotash Hut and seizing the moment by setting off on an adventure across the patch.
Let me start by saying graphic novels are not my preferred genre, I respect the talent that goes into creating them, but they usually don’t connect with me. When I saw that Rainbow Rowell had written a graphic novel, however, I knew I had to read it. Luckily Pumpkinheads did not disappoint. Josiah and Deja’s characters were well developed despite the short length of the story and limited text (Hicks’ expressive facial illustrations also deserve credit here). Within a short time-frame Rowell fills the reader in on the foundation of their friendship making the reader invested in the result of their mad dash across the pumpkin patch. Rowell’s dialogue is engaging and humorous, with Deja’s bubbly personality and penchant for seizing the moment complimenting Josiah’s shyness and sense of duty to his beloved pumpkin patch.
As for the illustrations, Faith Erin Hicks brings DeKnock’s Pumpkin Patch and the feeling of a cozy fall evening to life. Her illustrations are detailed, make use of a crisp fall color palate, and include plenty of humorous touches. The inclusion of a map of the patch on the inside cover of the book was a nice addition. You will want to visit the Pie Palace, S’Mores Pit, and Corn Maize while trying a Pumpkin Bomb and kettle corn.
Overall, a charming story of friendship set against a delightful fall background.
9/19 Caitlin Brisson
PUMPKINHEADS by Rainbow Rowell. Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second (August 27, 2019). ISBN 9781250312853. 224p.