Subtitled "God's Love Shining Through Me," this board book - filled with colorful illustrations and rhyming text - tells the story of a young boy whose daddy is a farmer. The daddy plants seeds that soon turn into a pumpkin patch. The boy chooses his favorite, then:
"We wash it and dry it, then cut off the top.
We scoop out the seeds and the pulp and the slop.
We take all the mess and we throw it away -
into the trash - that's where it will stay."
The boy and his father carve out eyes, a nose, and a smiling mouth, then put a candle inside so the pumpkin can shine in the night. Then the boy compares his pumpkin (which, incidentally, is never referred to as a jack-o-lantern) to himself. He says God picked him out and made him "like new" by washing away his sins and throwing them away. The boy concludes that he tries to "be good" so other people can see "God's love and God's light shining through me."
What I Like: The illustrations, by Claudine Gevry, are bright, colorful, and inviting. The author does a terrific job at taking a familiar object (the jack-o-lantern) and turning it into a spiritual lesson. The comparison between the pumpkin and the boy is made clear without beating us over the head, too. Although the young children for whom this book is targeted may not quite understand sin, and the author does not attempt to explain it, parents will find My Happy Pumpkin to be an excellent introduction to the topic. Best of all, parents can walk their child through the concept again by carving a pumpkin. Even if you don't do it in association with Halloween, the physicality of the carving - coupled with a reminder of the book you've just read - is a terrific way to cement the concept of God washing away our sins.
What I Dislike: Bowman does a great job with the rhyming text, although there is one spot where she doesn't use a perfect rhyme.
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: 4 and under.
Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2007; ISBN: 0310711606; board book, $6.99.
Special Info: You can see a portfolio of illustrator Claudine Gevry's work online.