“Pumpkinheads,” by Rainbow Rowell. Copyright 2019, First Second (209 pages, $17.99).
Rainbow Rowell is a queen of nostalgia and reminding us of our youth. She’s done this with her storytelling from her YA novel Eleanor & Park (reviewed April 2015) to her adult novel Landline. Rowell does it again while partnering up with illustrator Faith Erin Hicks for Pumpkinheads, a delightful graphic novel of two high-school seniors working their last shift at their beloved pumpkin patch (known to all who work at the pumpkin patch as “The Patch”) before heading off to college and whatever else life has in store for them as they being to navigate adulthood.
After working so many shifts together and around The Patch, Deja is set on making this the best night at The Patch for her and Josie. Deja is upbeat, rolls with whatever life throws her way, and extroverted. Josie is the complete opposite and a little melancholy, all he wants to focus on is making “This Month’s MVPPP – Most Valuable Pumpkin Patch Person” and completing his (almost) perfect streak. Deja has other plans for her and Josie. She wants to reminisce by eating all of her favorites (Frito pie and pumpkin bombs), by seeing everyone who has become seasonal work friends, and by helping Josie to finally talk to Fudge Girl and get that hay ride at the end of the night.
Josie finally agrees to Deja’s plans and shenanigans ensue while they try to track down Fudge Girl. In spite of youth hooligans and a rogue goat loose in the whole pumpkin patch, the pair continue their search While searching from the Fudge Shoppe to the S’mores Pit and all other places in between, Josie realizes that he has never just enjoyed The Patch, everything it can offer, and the memories that will always be with him from such a meaningful place.
The flow of the text and the artistry that came from this story being a graphic novel rather than a regular novel is lovely. Rainbow Rowell is a favorite for this reader and she appreciates the way Rowell made one of her personal and favorite pumpkin patches (in Omaha) come to life with the collaboration with Hicks. This book makes one want to hop on the next hay wagon and ride away into that crisp October night.
Kayleigh Dyer is a Library Technical Processing Assistant at May Memorial Library. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.