Review of Pumpkinheads

Pumpkinheads 

by Rainbow Rowell; illus. by Faith Erin Hicks; 
color by Sarah Stern 

High School    First Second/Roaring Brook    222 pp. 

8/19    978-1-250-31285-3    $24.99     

Paper ed.  978-1-62672-162-3    $17.99 

Graduating high-school seniors Josiah and Deja have worked together at DeKnock’s World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree every fall for the past three years; their final shift on Halloween is marked by both wistful nostalgia and a sense of new beginnings. Deja is determined to help Josiah work up the courage to finally approach his crush, Fudge Shoppe Girl. As they pursue Fudge Shoppe Girl through the pumpkin patch’s various attractions, easily bantering the entire way, it gradually becomes obvious to readers that their friendship could blossom into something more. Blue-eyed, blond Josiah is industrious, earnest, and insecure. Plus-sized, dark-skinned Deja is extroverted and charming; amid several madcap adventures over the course of the evening, she runs into various exes — both boys and girls. Fudge Shoppe Girl turns out to be a something of a MacGuffin, a plot device to jumpstart the wild goose chase, and when Josiah finally does track her down, he is underwhelmed, and realizes he’d rather spend the time with Deja. Rowell’s dialogue is sharp and punchy, while Hicks’s panel illustrations, dominated by various shades of purple, orange, red, and yellow, expertly capture the lovable main characters and the entertaining particulars of this autumnal setting. Expect this tender, sweet romance to be popular with a wide range of readers — and let’s hope this isn’t the last graphic novel collaboration between Rowell and Hicks.

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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