As the fall leaves change, Junior Wonderland BookSavers Ella and Wills have become increasingly enthralled with Halloween. Almost daily, they steal away to our basement to rummage through the boxes and baskets of our collection of costumes. At night, they plead for us to read Halloween stories. Every morning when they wake up, they drape themselves in blankets and run around the house being ghosts. Thus it seemed natural for their next project to be Halloween themed.
We chose one of our favorite Halloween books from when we were younger: Mrs. McMurphy’s Pumpkin by Rick Walton, illustrated by Delana Bettoli.
In the story, a mysterious pumpkin shows up by Mrs. McMurphy’s front door on October 27, and it has “a wicked, wicked grin.” The pumpkin boasts that it will soon grow teeth to eat Mrs. McMurphy, but Mrs. McMurphy is not impressed, and carries the pumpkin out of her house and places it on the porch. The next day, as Mrs. McMurphy gets up to milk her cows, she discovers that the pumpkin is on her sofa. But now the pumpkin has its “wicked, wicked grin” and a “crooked nose”! The pumpkin tells her “My nose is here. I smell you. When my teeth are here, I’ll eat you!” However, without hesitation, Mrs. McMurphy promptly puts the pumpkin into her shed.
On October 29, just as Mrs. McMurphy prepares to feed her pigs, she finds the pumpkin in her kitchen doorway, and today, it has two ears. The pumpkin now has a mouth to talk, a nose to smell with, and two ears to hear Mrs. McMurphy. But the pumpkin’s cheekiness will not bother Mrs. McMurphy, and she goes outside, and sends the pumpkin floating down the river. The next day, the day before Halloween, the pumpkin now has eyes. He once again reminds Mrs. McMurphy that tomorrow, he will eat her, but Mrs. McMurphy packages the pumpkin and sends it to the North Pole. On Halloween morning, Mrs. McMurphy goes into her kitchen to do baking. On her stove is the “large pumpkin with a wicked, wicked grin and a crooked nose and two pointy ears, and two mean eyes and large, sharp teeth sitting on her stove.” The pumpkin tells Mrs. McMurphy that he will now eat her. But Mrs. McMurphy doesn’t regard the pumpkin’s threat. And at night, to each of the trick-or-treaters, she gives a slice of pumpkin pie.
With the story complete, Ella and Wills both expressed their favorite parts. Wills liked when the pumpkin was sent down the river, and Ella’s favorite part was when the pumpkin was shivering in the North Pole.
I then began to explain what the craft was.
Mrs. McMurphy’s Pumpkin Craft
Materials: A paintbrush or sponge, orange paint, green construction paper, paper plates, black construction paper or a black sheet of adhesive foam, tape, plastic baggy
Directions: Take a paper plate, and paint the plate orange using a paintbrush or sponge. As your plate dries, have an adult or mature supervisor cut features (ears, eyes, nose, mouth) out of the black construction paper or black adhesive foam for the pumpkin face. Be creative when you’re cutting the features! Wills chose circle eyes and a square nose instead of the usual triangles, and Ella wanted her pumpkin’s mouth to be a grin and not have any teeth.
Wills’ pumpkin face on the left, Ella’s pumpkin face on the right.
Once you have cut out all the features for the pumpkin, put them in the plastic baggy. If you used construction paper for the features, then you will have to tape the new features on each day. If you used the adhesive foam, then when the time comes to place each feature on the pumpkin, you will just need to peel off the backing. Also, cut out a rectangle to be the stem of the pumpkin, but do not put the stem on the pumpkin yet. Starting on October 27, you can use the pumpkin as a visible countdown calendar to Halloween. On the 27, add the stem, on the 28, add the mouth, on the 29, add the nose, on the 30, add the ears, and Halloween add the eyes.
Ella and Wills both had a great time making their pumpkin countdown calendar, and can’t wait to put it into use!