Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, paperback graphic novel, 209 pages, published by Macmillan Children’s Books in 2019.
Deja and Josiah work in a pumpkin patch fun park in the lead up to Halloween. It is their last night on the job, but Deja isn’t going to let that sadden her. She has a mission which will lead them on one last adventure together.
I don’t very often read graphic novels, but this one had been on my radar for a little while. I’d heard many good things about it, and I agree, it was really good. I didn’t want to put it down, so I read the whole thing in one go.
At first, when I read the blurb, I wasn’t sure how much fun two high schoolers working in a pumpkin patch (and at night??) would actually have. I’m Australian, so I was picturing them in the pumpkin fields, doing things like weeding, fertilising, or harvesting fat pumpkins! I had no idea that a pumpkin patch is actually a seasonal fair that is held in the lead up to Halloween. So right off the bat, I learnt something new! The map on the inner cover of the book really helped me discover the pumpkin patch, and orient myself through the story. When I think about the pumpkin patch, it does sound pretty neat. I think it would be lots of fun to wander about a corn maze, whilst eating a variety of holiday themed snacks, and seeing things like chicken races and pumpkin slingshots.
Graphic novels read like long comics, and this one was easy to get into. It was a quick and entertaining read, though a little predictable. The chapters were short, and the artwork was great. I was left feeling happy and satisfied after reading Pumpkinheads.
Deja was a cool and outgoing character, who contrasted nicely with her work buddy Josiah, who was way more serious and quiet. They were both quite likable, but it was Deja’s enthusiasm and determination that sucked me in. She was a girl on a mission, well, more than one mission! She felt more real than many characters found in YA; she was just a normal teen working a part-time job, eating junk, hanging out with friends, and having fun. It was refreshing. Josiah was also portrayed well. He reminded me of several boys I knew growing up. So clueless, but adorably so.
Of course, the artwork brought the characters to life, but it also meant that I didn’t have a chance to create them in my mind first (one reason I hate seeing the movie before the book!). I guess that is a hazard of the graphic novel, but nevertheless, I thought everything was drawn with great talent. The facial expressions and body language of the characters was extremely good; it would have been possible to follow the story without reading the speech.
And that goat! Ha! That goat was just perfect. Love that goat.
Pumkinheads is suitable for high school students.