A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about pumpkin patches and seasonal jobs.
Promotes honesty between friendships, admitting your feelings, appreciating senior year, taking advantage of new adventures.
Violence & Scariness
A goat escapee from the petting zoo chases people and runs into a couple of folks (but in a funny way).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some flirting between various characters and a brief kiss and hand-holding.
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A few insults like "dumb," "lame," "tacky," "gross," "stupid."
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.