Book Review

Pumpkinheads – Rainbow Rowell


Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

When thinking about reluctant readers, I always gravitate towards recommending graphic novels. It is something that I do on a daily basis in the library and I feel that it is usually the most successful way to get a reluctant reader to engage with books. Graphic novels are a different medium because there are fewer words than a chapter book and they augment the storytelling with illustrations. They just tend to be more engaging because of the visual component than regular books are, especially for readers that struggle with regular books. As Garcia (2019) wrote, “The art in graphic novels makes it easier for readers to relate to the characters and imagine how it would feel to be in a similar situation, which builds empathy” (para 5).

That means that if your reluctant reader is hesitant to read because their reading skills are not on grade level, they can still engage with the story and understand what’s going on through the pictures. It helps bridge the gap between peers’ reading abilities. In addition, the visual nature of graphic novels helps to bring a story to life in a way that some readers struggle to do on their own. Graphic novels are a great way to motivate struggling readers and as Tankersley wrote “young people can motivate themselves to read what interests them” and if they’re interested in a subject then they’re more likely to be motivated read and believe they can succeed (para 20). By creating graphic novels in a vast array of subjects from adaptations of classic literature to the reader’s favorite tv shows – readers can be engaged by finding books that interest them.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell is a really easy read about fall and friendship. Although it’s almost 200 pages, the text is sparse as most of the story is told through the illustrations and would likely take most readers less than an hour to breeze through it. Although I found the story to be predictable, it’s easy and flowing nature lends itself well to being a graphic novel that would appeal to reluctant readers. It follows two seniors on their last night at the Pumpkin Patch and the shenanigans that they get into. It was also on the ALA/YALSA list for graphic novels and received a starred review from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and Horn Book.

Overall, it was cute and easy but not particularly memorable or engaging.

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