Hey there readers! This is a special review of a series of books sent to us for consideration. The series, titled Pumpkinheads, is a collection of books for toddlers and preschool-age children. Here is a description from the author Karen Kilpatrick:
“As the mother of three multi-racial children, I felt it was important to develop books that help kids learn from and interact with others, while encouraging acceptance of self and the celebration of their unique strengths and talents. Children learn about themselves, the world and others through storytelling and play, and these new books invite them to explore important social and emotional themes appropriate to their age in a fun way.”
The Pumpkinheads series involves protagonists who represent a mix of racial backgrounds and ethnicities. The characters appear woven throughout the series and each one seems to have his or her own distinct personality. The stories help children build awareness and acceptance of their feelings by portraying the often turbulent emotions that children often experience at this young age. Many children will connect with the relatable stories of the characters who struggle with being sad, shy, lonely, possessive over their things, being excluded from a group, and feeling/looking different from others. Simultaneously, the books also deliver positive messages including the importance of sharing, listening, appreciating the natural world, incorporating everyone into playtime and, perhaps most importantly, learning to love yourself just the way you are. In a message from the Pumpkinheads, the reader is told “Beauty comes from within, from a warm and loving heart. But you should love your outside too, and here’s a place to start: Look in the mirror like Danza did-you know what to do! Take your time, gaze for a while, and enjoy that wonderful you!”
These stories were meant to be read out loud. The text of the books is perfect for its preschool- aged audience in that it includes alliteration, rhyming, repetition, and exclamatory onomatopoeia — writing techniques that capture the reader’s attention and make the experience of reading more fun and enjoyable. This lighthearted approach is mirrored throughout the series, which as a whole emphasizes learning through play.
Most of the books end with a spread about “The Pumpkinheads Answer,” in which each character answers a question such as, “How do you make new friends?” ”What is your favorite instrument?” “What do you like about you?” and “What do you practice?” The repeated presentation of characters in this form highlights their individuality and can lead readers to become invested in their favorite characters. I recommend this series mostly because of its success at presenting characters and situations that are so relatable to children.
I found the books to be a great tool for teaching about emotions and delivering positive messages. One of the best things about a series is that the stories and protagonists endure and evolve. Children can become attached to this series’ particular characters and literary style, leading them to be eager and excited to read more. Here are some lesson plans including common core standards to go along with some of the books:
- Love Monster Lulu Educator’s Guide
- Carmin Cares Educator’s Guide
- Sage’s Song Educator’s Guide
- Danza’s Messgage Educator’s Guide
- Ella’s Toys Educator’s Guide
To learn more about the Pumpkinheads series check out the website.