We Planted a Pumpkin

We Planted a Pumpkin
Rob Ramsden
Scallywag Press

Rob Ramsden’s boy and girl characters from We Found a Seed are now a little more savvy about what happens when a seed is planted but even so they’re a tad impatient about the pumpkin seed they plant, hoping it will bear fruit by Halloween.

Young readers and listeners share with them the gourd’s entire growing process as first roots, and then leaves, start to sprout.

Come summer the flowers bloom and are visited by bees, butterflies and other insects and as the weeks pass, the flowers die –

all except one at the base of which they find a small green bump – not yet a pumpkin but on its way to so being.

Excitement mounts along with the pumpkin’s growth, as it absorbs the rain and soaks up the sun.

Then little by little, the ripening happens; the pumpkin swells and turns orange until finally, it’s harvest time.

That’s not quite the end of the story though, for there’s the hollowing out and face carving to do – and then hurrah! It’s Halloween …

Like Rob’s previous titles, this beautifully illustrated book is pitch perfect for little ones. They’ll love spotting all the minibeasts on every spread.

I have no doubt that like the characters in the story, youngsters will be motivated to engage with nature, try planting some pumpkin seeds and become excited as they follow their development.

Night of the Moon / Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets

With the month of Ramadan starting soon here are two lovely picture books to add to your early years or KS1 class collection:-

Night of the Moon
Hena Khan and Julie Paschkis
Chronicle Books
There’s a slither of a new moon in the sky and Yasmeen’s mother reminds her that it heralds the start of the month of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

We then follow 7 year-old Yasmeen and her family through the month as the moon waxes and wanes and the girl expands her understanding of what Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr mean.

All the while, the author skilfully integrates information about the celebrations with the warmth of Yasmeen’s love of family and friends as she talks to her mother about fasting, attends family parties, goes to the mosque

and learns about the importance of sharing during Ramadan.

Eventually there is no moon in the night sky and Yasmeen knows that the next night will be the Night of the Moon signifying the end of Ramadan and the much-anticipated Eid-ul-Fitr.

At sunset Yasmeen’s family go to the community centre for a special Night of the Moon celebration and from one of the stalls her mum buys new clothes for the family to wear on the day of Eid.

Back home Yasmeen has her hands decorated with beautiful Mehndi patterns …

and finally next morning it’s time to wish everyone “Eid Mubarak”.

What makes this book so arrestingly gorgeous is Julie Paschkis’ richly coloured gouache paintings bordered with motifs and designs borrowed from Islamic art.

Children of all faiths and none can enjoy sharing in the young girl’s joy in celebrating her faith and its traditions.

a Muslim family celebrates

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets
Hena Khan and Mehrdokht Amini
Chronicle Books

Following on from Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, the author and illustrator explore both shapes and some cultural and religious aspects of the Muslim world.

Most shapes are two dimensional – the rectangle of the mosque’s wooden door; the octagonal pond surrounding a fountain; the triangular sides of the mimbar’s stairs.

There’s a beautiful square garden fragrant with sweet smelling oranges; the large drum used on festive occasions – a daff – is circular; a painted tile hexagonal; the table an oval and there’s a diamond design on the child narrator’s new Eid kaftan.

Others such as the cone shaped tip of the minaret are 3D and the Ka’aba stone is an enormous cube shape.

So much beauty / in the shapes that I see / adds to my faith / and the world around me.” So concludes the narrator at the end of the book after which comes a helpful glossary in which I discovered that ‘ayah’ used here is a verse from the Quran rather than the meaning ‘nursemaid’ that I’m familiar with.

Mehrdokht Amini’s illustrations, which accompany Hena Khan’s straightforward rhyming text portray Muslims from a number of countries, each spread representing a different country, thus encompassing the cultural diversity of Islam.