'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 8 April 2018

Review: Giant Pumpkin Suite

This brilliant piece of work focuses on the individuality of twins, the strong bond between them, a big young girl with dreams that fit her size, a giant pumpkin that keeps her from her goals, and all that happens in between. It’s also about literature, numbers and music, and the effect they can have on people’s lives

Thomas and Rose are twelve and a half years old. But no one remembers that they are twins as they are opposites in appearance and character. Sickness at an early age has kept Thomas from growing. His literacy is at a low level and he is grades behind Rose.

At almost six feet tall, intelligent and gifted Rose hates her height. Her one advantage of having long legs is that she can steady her cello with them. She is practising hard to win a musical competition which will allow her to study under famous maestro, Harry Walderstein.

The twins’ lives swerve from their daily habits when Thomas finds their old neighbour, Mr Pickering, broken at the bottom of his cellar steps. His only concern is that a seed in a cup be taken care of. This leads to sudden and extraordinary change in their neighbourhood’s life.

The seed C. maxima, receiving the care it needs, begins to grow at an alarming rate. To preserve and facilitate its rate of growth, space is needed. So Thomas begins digging, clearing and composting. Rose finds herself spending more time helping Thomas help the pumpkin grow, and less on her cello practise. As the pumpkin demands increasing attention, informational books are borrowed from the library and sourced from the internet. Worms and more compost are ordered, and as knowledge about pumpkins improves, every task becomes magnified.

The whole neighbourhood comes alive as it is drawn into the pumpkin project. Isolated neighbours come out of their shells to participate, their lives opening up in union with the blooming pumpkin flowers.

The story twists when the reader least expects it. Tragedy strikes; lives fall to pieces in a startling, heart-stopping moment.

There is a lot going on in this riveting story with many twists and turns. Attention is given to themes on human nature, community spirit, and dedication to a cause. The pages are filled with serendipity, Charlotte’s Web, numbers and Bach suites. Its wonderful characters, meaningful issues, and an outstanding storyline that informs, makes this novel something different and suitable for all ages.

Title: Giant Pumpkin Suite
Author: Melanie Heuiser Hill
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: December 2017, $29.99
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780763691554
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Fiction