by Judy Newman
Today, if I were in kindergarten teacher Natasha Ciron’s class and asked to draw myself as a pumpkin, I would probably draw a head that was filled with migraines. I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but my migraines are relentless. Since I have had them for decades, no one in my circle of family, friends, or colleagues really wants to hear about them anymore. My “fremily” is sympathetic but ultimately frustrated that they can’t do anything to help, and honestly, while I know their suggestions to take a bath, or eat chocolate, or avoid cheeses are well meaning, there isn’t a treatment I haven’t tried. Migraines are neurological, no one really understands them fully, and the only people who like to talk about migraines are other migraine sufferers.
So it’s likely my Cooked Up from a Book pumpkin-head drawing won’t go over too well.
The best treatment for me is to find something that takes my mind off my migraine, and honestly, that usually means reading—and writing about—a great book. This week, I am happy and relieved to be reading about Spookley, a beloved square pumpkin who shows everyone how being yourself and embracing your unique qualities can save the day.
Every week on our Scholastic Book Clubs blog, we try to feature a title that will interest most teachers and students. The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano, illustrated by Susan Banta, has universal appeal. Spookley is the “spokes-pumpkin” for National Bullying Prevention Month, and his story has been made into a film and television series.
As if being a square pumpkin in a round patch isn’t difficult enough, Spookley is bullied by the other pumpkins because he’s different. Until a storm arrives and Spookley realizes that the one thing that makes him unique can actually help others.
With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin is a perfect read-aloud to explore the topics of tolerance, self-acceptance, and empathy in a fun and age-appropriate way.
“Spookley helps early learners discover that the things that make us different are the things that make us special.” —Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center
“Students will learn the valuable lesson of being unique and different. This is a great teaching tool to learn about the things that make us alike and different.” —Fun Friday Classroom
In addition to stimulating really important discussions among children about accepting others (and providing me with a welcome distraction from my current migraine!) Spookley the square pumpkin also got us talking in the office about real-life square fruits and vegetables. Our Scholastic Book Clubs colleague Hisami Aoki shared this photo of square watermelons from a supermarket in Japan.
David Vozar also started thinking about the differently shaped fruits and vegetables in his life.
As you can tell, Spookley inspires us at Scholastic Book Clubs to think in new ways. We hope this Book of the Week will bring out honest feelings and be an interesting discussion starter for the young people you know and teach.
Do your students want to learn even more about The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin? Here are some fun videos and activities to share:
• Watch the Book Boys Brain Break video and dance along to a special Halloween song
• Learn how kindergarten teacher Natasha Ciron uses The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin in the classroom to teach the importance of accepting differences in ourselves and others in Book Talks
• Watch a video interview with author Joe Troiano in Behind the Scenes to discover how this little pumpkin with a big message came to be a perennial fall favorite
• Download a printable activity to accompany The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin in Cooked Up from a Book
Our goal at Scholastic Book Clubs is to help every teacher and family introduce all children to wonderful books they can choose to build their home libraries and read in school so they can each declare, “I am a reader.” That’s why in addition to the $1 Book of the Week, we’ve carved out some inflation-busting savings for teachers. Additionally, we’ve created exclusive author events, live read-aloud shows, and fun contests to add to your basket of resources.
Stay square! (And if you want to share any ideas about Spookley or talk about migraines, please reach out).
Thanks for reading with us!
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs