You know how Amazon.com will make recommendations to you based on your previous purchases? Well, after buying some cello repertoire for my 10-year-old cellist, Amazon recommended the young adult novel Great Pumpkin Suite by Melanie Heuiser Hill. After reading the about it, I decided to check it out from the library.
At first my 10-year-old looked at it and said, “Ah, I don’t want to read that.”
I said what I always say: “Let’s read the first three chapters. If you don’t like it after three chapters, we don’t have to finish it.” He agreed. (So far we have never not finished a book after using this strategy.)
What’s funny is that after three chapters, I wasn’t as interested in reading the book (I liked it okay), but I thought for sure my son wouldn’t want to read it. Instead he said, “We can keep reading it.”
While it was a rather slow beginning for me, it hooked him, and since it’s a young adult book, that’s not surprising. But after we kept reading, I began to love the story more and more.
It’s about twelve-year-old Rose and her twin brother, Thomas. Although they are twins, they are different in many ways. Rose is very tall for her age, but Thomas is not. She’s also very gifted — school work is easy for her, and she is a prodigy at the cello. She practices as much as she can. She’s very goal-oriented, and she doesn’t let anything get in her way of achieving her goals. At the beginning of the book, she’s preparing for an important competition, and it’s all she can think about. If she wins, she’ll get to study cello with the esteemed Dr. Wallerstein.
Thomas has trouble with school work, and besides that, he’s a very energetic boy who would rather be outside or doing anything besides schoolwork. At the beginning of the book, he discovers that their elderly neighbor, Mr. Pickering, has fallen down his basement stairs. Thomas and his family help Mr. Pickering, and while he’s in the hospital, Thomas takes care of a very important seed that Mr. Pickering is growing. He learns later that it’s a giant pumpkin seed, and he plans to help Mr. Pickering grow it.
Mr. Pickering needs more than just Thomas’s help, however. They get Rose to help them whenever she can, and slowly the whole neighborhood gets involved. The book is full of fun and interesting characters who live and work in her neighborhood.
After a terrible accident, the pumpkin project helps Rose get through her summer, and she and Thomas make many new friends. Best of all, throughout her turbulent, pumpkin growing summer, Rose learns that there is more to life than cello and school work.
I highly recommend this book to all parents and their young children. It makes a great read aloud.