Thursday’s Tale: Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
Illustrator: S.D. Schindler
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 31, 1992
Genres: Childrens, Folktale
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Once there was a witch who longed for pumpkin pie. Unfortunately, the pumpkin she had grown from a seed became so big she simply couldn't get it off the vine. Although "she pulled and she tugged and she pulled...that pumpkin just sat."

Along came a ghost. "I am bigger than you and stronger, too," said he. "Let me try."

Well, the witch wanted that whole pumpkin for herself. But she needed help -- Halloween was just hours away...

With the rhythm and repetition that children love, Erica Silverman tells a rollicking story about a witch who, through her encounter with a ghost and other spooky creatures, discovers both the value of cooperating and the joy of sharing. S.D. Schindler brings this captivating crew to life in spirited paintings that are as warm as they are funny.

Love, love, love this Halloween kids book! We read our copy so many times when Amber was young that it started falling apart. We went to the pumpkin patch this Sunday and while we were picking out our pumpkins, we had to repeat the catch phrase – “It’s big and it’s mine, but it’s stuck on the vine, and Halloween’s just hours away.”

The rhythmic, repetitive text is perfect and I love the monsters. There’s the must have Halloween visitors, the witch herself, a ghost, a vampire, a mummy and a bat, but the story focuses on how they all end up working together. It’s got a great message of teamwork and friendship. And then they all get to share the pie. A definite Halloween treat.

It’s a perfect read-aloud with plenty of repetition and rhyming and fun voices.

Just then, along came a vampire. “Big pumpkin,” said the vampire.
“It’s big and it’s mine, but it’s stuck on the vine, and Halloween’s just hours away,” said the witch. And she kicked that pumpkin.
“I am bigger than both of you and stronger too,” boasted the vampire, “Let me try.”
“Hmph!” said the witch.
“Hmph!” said the ghost.
But they thought about pumpkin pie and stepped aside.

The Story isactually based on a Russian folktale which is how it fits in my Thursday theme. “The Giant Turnip” was first published in 1863 in the collection Russian Folk Tales, edited and published by Aleksandr Afanas’ev.

It is a progressive story, in which a grandfather plants a turnip, which grows so large that he cannot pull it up himself. He asks the grandmother for help, and they together still cannot pull it up. Successively more people are recruited to help, until they finally pull the turnip up together. First it is the grandfather, then the grandmother helps. The order continues with the granddaughter, the female-dog , the female-cat and finally the female-mouse. The moral of the story is that only with the help of the weakest and smallest creature, the mouse, can the giant turnip be pulled up.

According to RussianCrafts.com Also, the translation loses all the lyricism and rhyming of the tale. In Russian, the similar words repeated patterns combined to make a rhythm that is almost a tongue-twister! “Transliterated, the last line of the tale sounds like this: Myshka za koshku, koshka za Zhuchku, Zhuchka za vnuchku, vnuchka za babku, babka za dedku, dedka za repku, tyanut-potyanut–vytyanuli repku!”

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

About Erica Silverman

ERICA SILVERMAN has written many books for children, including Sholom’s Treasure: How Sholom Aleichem Became a Writer, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, and When the Chickens Went on Strike, illustrated by Matthew Trueman. She lives in Los Angeles, California.