|Proud Pumpkin by Nora S. Unwin. E.P. Dutton & Co, 1953.|
(See eBay for listings of the book with its jacket.)
Here is a delightful, old-fashioned treat. They don't make 'em like this anymore. From the basement storage area from our city's main public library, I present Proud Pumpkin, written and illustrated by Nora S. Unwin.
This is the story of a big, beautiful pumpkin. He is quite proud of his appearance, telling all the brother pumpkins he will never, ever be eaten. He swells with pride, growing plumper and tougher each day. Then one day, the farmer cuts him off the vine and takes him to the vegetable cellar.
"Not to be eaten!" he shouts to the other pumpkins, as they watch him go. He watches as other pumpkins disappear upstairs to the kitchen.
Then one day, a boy named Billy knocks on the farmer's door. Billy is looking for a nice big pumpkin. He is hosting a Halloween party the following night.
The other pumpkins snicker as they watch Proud Pumpkin leave. "But not to eaten, not to be eaten," he calls out behind him.
It feels weird to have his insides scooped out, and strange having his flesh cut. But Billy declares him a handsome fellow, the best jack o'lantern he ever made. The pumpkin's pride returns. The next evening, he is quite the star of the party.
Then the party ends. Billy blows out the candle and leaves the pumpkin outside, alone in the dark.
And there the pumpkin remains.
His pride sags with his rotting face. Mice scurry about, making a meal of what's left inside. One day, his lid collapses. "This so frightened the mice nibbling inside, that they thought the end of the world had come."
The mice only leave when the cat chases them away.
Finally, one cold, cold day, a little chipmunk approaches the once-proud pumpkin. The chipmunk is looking for a home for the winter. He asks the pumpkin if he might move in.
"Residence!" grunted Proud Pumpkin. "I've never been called that before.""I'll promise not to eat you," urged the chipmunk, "if you'll only let me come inside and make a nest."
The chipmunk builds his nest, then collects acorns "for his spring breakfast." Once he's ready, he crawls inside the pumpkin, curls into a ball, and goes to sleep.
His warm little presence began to send a small glow of pleasure all through the old pumpkin. But it wasn't the glow of pride this time.
"It's nice to be useful after all," the pumpkin sighed to himself. "It makes you feel good."
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