Monday, August 18, 2014


Pumpkins by Mary Lyn Ray is indeed about pumpkins, but even more
 about human ecology and conservation. Ray is a proven master at tackling
 subjects about humans and their relationship to nature, and developing a
 narrative to ignite such conversations about economics, ecology, and solving
 problems. This mentor text is loaded with teachable moments from sensory
 imagery to problem and solution text structure. The lead sentence, 
"Once upon a time there was a field" invites the reader to a setting and alerts
 them to a possible lesson ahead with the fairy tale phrase, followed by the first
 opportunity to infer when you turn the page. A clear problem is introduced and 
tension is offered. An extension to this book might be to have students think of 
a natural place, setting, or view that they would like to protect, and how they
 might present possible ways to save the visual treasure!  Many communities have 
current issues around land conservation and keeping access to  woods, water, and
 mountains, for everyone to love and enjoy. Think of all the guest speakers 
(real estate broker, hunter, ecologist, land owner, farmer, town manager, 
conservation committee member, park ranger) and field experiences
 (land with conservation easement, public access to water spots, parks, private 
land with owner permission) you could connect with this!  The realistic and 
emotional illustrations by Barry Root are watercolor and gouache full-bleed double 
page spreads that look like landscapes you have seen on living room walls at a home 
with framed art.  This picture book has wide grade appeal with a variety of ways to 
connect with common core or social studies curriculum, making it the perfect Autumn 
read for classrooms K-8.                                                                                                                                                                           

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