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The Children’s Book Review
The Burping Pumpkin
Written by Steph Alexis
Illustrated by Mariya Stoyanova
Age Range: 4-9
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press
What to expect: Fairy Tale and Humor
Hansel and Gretel meets Jack and the Beanstalk in this entertaining and contemporary picture book fairy tale, The Burping Pumpkin.
Zach and Zoe live in the quaint village of Berryville—luscious berries grow here most of the year. Nestled into the base of the majestic mountains, the villagers know never to climb beyond the weeping willows because a group of men once went up and never returned. The villagers believe that the weeping willows sprung from the tears of the women who lost their loved ones. Mom sends Zach and Zoe to collect a basket of strawberries so she can make a pie, warning them not to cross beyond the willows. Lured by the strawberries that are bigger, juicier, and sweeter than ever, the pair end up halfway up the mountain without realizing it. Exhausted by the climb, they stop for a rest and drift off to sleep, only to be awakened by the thumping footsteps of a giant. Their only hope is to hide inside a massive pumpkin. However, when the giant spots the pumpkin and decides to take it home to his wife, Zoe’s tummy is full of berries and a burp she can no longer hold in may alert the giant to their whereabouts. What unfolds from here results in a smashing (and splashing) finale.
Author Steph Alexis has captured the essence of a good fairy tale with the inclusion of the folkloric giant, as well as the combination of a far-fetched sequence of events that leave the characters living happily ever after with an abundance of berries and pumpkins. Staying true to the fairy tale genre’s oral tradition, the text is lengthier than the average 200-word picture book. It works well as a family or 2nd-grade classroom read-aloud or for independent reading time. The tale concludes with a song (complete with sheet music), a poem, a place to write a pumpkin poem of your own, and an excellent set of questions that work on comprehension—solidifying its usefulness in the classroom and/or in book club discussions. Mariya Stoyanova’s artwork is lively and colorful, bringing the story to life while also capturing the attention of younger readers who may be working on listening skills.
Funny and suspenseful this original tale has the feel of a fairy tale classic! It’s a welcome addition to the season of all things pumpkin that we suspect will appeal to even our most reluctant readers.
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About the Author
Steph Alexis spent years working in the financial services industry before embracing his secret passion for fictional writing. From the Spice Isle of Grenada, Steph is a beach enthusiast, jogger, hiker, environmentalist, and avid meditator. Steph is on a quest is to develop literacy and a love for reading in children at an early age, through humor and adventure. Steph lives in Somerset New Jersey with his wife and teenage son. Watch for The Magic Basketball and The Adventures of Zachary the Zebra, out next year.
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