Pumpkinheads

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Pumpkinheads Book Poster Image
Delightful graphic novel about friendship, food, and fall.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about pumpkin patches and seasonal jobs.

Positive Messages

Promotes honesty between friendships, admitting your feelings, appreciating senior year, taking advantage of new adventures.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Josiah and Deja are both hardworking, generous, kind. They take their jobs seriously and genuinely love being at the pumpkin patch. Josiah is curious and intelligent. Deja in particular displays a high degree of empathy, and they act as a wonderful team.

Violence

A goat escapee from the petting zoo chases people and runs into a couple of folks (but in a funny way).

Sex

Some flirting between various characters and a brief kiss and hand-holding.

Language

A few insults like "dumb," "lame," "tacky," "gross," "stupid."

Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pumpkinheads is a graphic novel collaboration between bestselling author Rainbow Rowell and award-winning author-illustrator Faith Erin Hicks. A tribute to autumn, midwestern United States pumpkin patches, and seasonal high school jobs, this lighthearted relationship comedy follows September and October co-workers and best friends Deja and Josiah as they embark on one final adventure during their last shift at their beloved pumpkin patch. There's some flirting and romance (outgoing Deja has dated a few fellow co-workers, while quieter Josiah has had one crush from afar), including one climactic kiss, as well as some mild punny insults and jokes ("dumb," "lame," "tacky," "gross," "stupid"), but it's a "clean YA" pick for younger middle and high schoolers.

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User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byPeetzerhut May 3, 2020

An absolute GODSEND

This book is AMAZING. It has a great colourful cast of characters. If Common sense media let me go over 5 stars, believe me I would. My favourite part is when t... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bykatey kat December 24, 2019

Really Really Good

In terms of quality: This is so unspeakably good. It will make you hungry and it will make you believe in happy endings. It screams autumn. I read it in one sit... Continue reading

What's the story?

PUMPKINHEADS is a contemporary graphic novel about two high school seniors working their final shift together at a seasonal pumpkin patch. After three years of being autumnal besties and co-workers at DeKnock's World Famous Pumpkin Patch and Autumn Jamboree in Omaha, Nebraska, dedicated employee-of-the-month Josiah and free-spirited Deja face their last evening together. Josiah wants a quiet Halloween shift at the Succotash Hut, but Deja has a plan for the two of them to work in a new location, eat all of their favorite snacks, and encourage "Josie" to finally speak to the co-worker he's crushed on for three years, "The Fudge Girl." But the night proves to be much more of a bonding adventure than even Deja anticipated.

Is it any good?

This is an utterly charming and heartwarming graphic novel about two lovable besties and the power of friendship, small adventures, and pumpkin patches. Rowell and Hicks are both fabulous storytellers, and the medium works beautifully to capture the spirit of Deja and Josie's last night as pumpkin patch employees. From the opening-page map to the familiar station names (Succotash Hut, Fudge Shoppe, Pie Palace, Kettle Corn Kettle) to the deliciously detailed snack foods (readers should know they will be hungry upon finishing), this is the sort of sweet-as-pie story that middle schoolers and moms alike will adore.

Although the primary plotline revolves around Deja persuading Josiah to talk to Marcy, the Fudge Shoppe worker he's been smitten with for three years, the story goes far beyond that to explore the main characters' personalities, flaws, strengths, and experiences (he's cautious, she's impetuous; he's never been in a relationship, she's had several). The story also explores how bittersweet senior year is, this season walking a fine line between adolescence and adulthood when every big event is the "last" before everything changes. But along with the underlying substantive themes, there's a whole lot of fun. There's even a rowdy billy goat on the loose that the protagonists tend to ignore as they snack and make their way across the pumpkin patch. Pumpkinheads is sure to win over even the most jaded of readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the themes in Pumpkinheads. How are seniors uniquely vulnerable to their final milestones as high school students before graduation?

  • Why is it notable to have an attractive, plus-sized, bisexual teen girl of color as one of the protagonists? Why is representation important in literature? Why do readers benefit from both windows to other cultures/identities and mirrors of their own in books? 

  • Discuss the friendship-to-romance theme. Who are some of your favorite friends-to-love-interests couples?

  • How are Josiah and Deja role models? What character strengths do they display? Why are empathy and teamwork important?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and teen romance

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