Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

book-or-treat: literary pumpkins!

Jack Skellington pumpkin head
Jack Skellington as a pumpkinhead - source
Before Jack Skellington - the main character in Tim Burton's animated film, The Nightmare Before Christmas - there was L. Frank Baum's storybook character, Jack Pumpkinhead...

Jack Pumpkinhead first appeared in Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz (published in 1904).  Jack, tall and lanky, with a body made from tree limbs and jointed with wooden pegs, has a jack-o'lantern for a head (hence the name).  But unlike typical jack-o'lanterns, this pumpkin still has all its insides.  In The Road to Oz, Jack has settled in a large pumpkin-shaped house near the castle of the Tin Woodman in Winkie Country. Jack spends much of his time growing pumpkins to replace his old heads, which eventually spoil and need to be replaced. (The old heads are buried in a graveyard on his property.)

In 1913, to publicize the relaunching of the OZ series after a three-year hiatus, Baum wrote a set of six short stories under the series title The Little Wizard Stories. They were each published as separate books and intended for somewhat younger children, in a style similar to today's Little Golden Books.  So children read about Jack again, in the short story, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse of Oz.

The 23rd OZ book, Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz was written by Ruth Plumly Thompson, the writer who continued the OZ books after the death of L. Frank Baum.

So, are the similarities between the Two Jacks purely coincidental?
"...in his first scene in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington does have a pumpkin on his head, and looks very much like Jack Pumpkinhead. Also, the director of Nightmare was Henry Sellick who, eight years earlier, had been a storyboard artist on Return to Oz, and therefore had several opportunities to draw Jack Pumpkinhead. From another perspective, similarities can also be seen between Scraps, the Patchwork Girl of the OZ books, and Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas, so there may be another connection there, but it's also not terribly likely."(source: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz website).
You might like my other OZ post HERE.

Want to explore some other pumpkinheads - Jack-O'Lanterns - inspired by books?  Here's what I found...
Jane Austen inspired Victorian pumpkins

How about a Sleepy Hallow(een) Pumpkin?

Fun party decor, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven

Cinderella Pumpkin
Halloween meets Cinderella: 
from allaboutpumpkins.com: "Cinderella" pumpkins are a unique French heirloom whose correct name is "Rouge vif D'Etampes". The source of their nickname it that they resemble the pumpkin that Cinderella's fairy godmother transformed into a carriage. This pumpkin is recorded as having been the variety cultivated by the Pilgrims and served at the second Thanksgiving dinner. There is something magical about them. Cinderellas make a delightful decorative accent for the fall season, but additionally their flavor is good for any pie or winter squash recipe.
"Fairytale" pumpkins ("Musque De Provence") have high, deeply ridged cheeks that are often found in the older varieties. This one is also from France. The greenish-brown coloration of the skin makes it very decorative. It could be the biggest jack-o'-lantern on the block... also good in pies!
Fairytale Heirloom Pumpkin

Cinderella Coach Pumpkin

This cute forest cottage pumpkin reminds me of something you'd read about in one of the THE BRAMBLY HEDGE books, by Jill Barklem.



  1. I LOVE fairytale pumpkins, but the "Cinderella Coach" and "Brambly Hedge" pumpkins take the cake here!!

  2. Er, I guess I should've said "take the pie"...