The Pumpkin War Book Review and Activity Pages

The Pumpkin War Book Spotlight

Exploring Friendships and Science

“She cared about making us see that learning about the world is like peeling back the layers of an onion.” – The Pumpkin War

Lyrical language weaves summer, science and friendships into a magnificent story.

As this very different summer approaches many of us may yearn for simpler times. Step into summer with The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young.  Written by an award-winning screenwriter and the executive director of Humanitas this book will bring back the taste of summer, a promise of days spent outdoors with our friends.

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The Pumpkin War Book Review #mosswoodconnections #YAbooks #chapterbook #freeworksheets

A Book That is Perfect for Middle School Students

The Pumpkin War is about two friends, Billie and Sam, and how they spend their summer preparing for a Pumpkin Boat Race. At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer adults and children across the island grow giant, 1000-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out, and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town. The idea of floating in a giant pumpkin is enough to hook any reader but that is just the backdrop to the friendship problems the characters are having.

Billie and her best friend Sam have had their friendship fractured since the last summer’s pumpkin boat race. Tweens and young teens will relate to the problems the two friends are having. It’s a great way to open a conversation about lying and forgiveness.

Science topics are woven through the book as the characters compete to grow the best and biggest pumpkin they can for the pumpkin boat race. Sam and Billie’s teacher gives them a summer assignment to think about what Albert Einstein was thinking about on the last day of his life. Sam has a keen interest in cosmology and Billie loves her bees. This book is rich with learning opportunities.



The Pumpkin War Coloring Page

The Pumpkin War Crossword Puzzle

The Pumpkin War Crossword Puzzle

The Pumpkin War Space Maze

Book Extension Activity Pages

We are passionate about books and literacy! Creating ways to make literature come alive for our students is so satisfying and rewarding.

Check out some of our other chapter book lesson plans and activity pages!

  • The Indian and the Cupboard – When Omri’s big brother has no birthday present for him, he gives Omri an old wooden medicine cabinet he’s found. The cabinet doesn’t seem like much of a present to nine-year-old Omri until he deposits inside it another present he receives for his birthday: a miniature plastic Indian. The book is rich with concepts and topics to discuss from magic to history to friendship and this book will enthrall even the most reluctant reader.
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside Schoolmade up of thirty tales (one for each student and teacher who work on the thirtieth story, as well as one each for the cafeteria lady and Louis the yard teacher) and a brief introduction. With each story, the characters leave reality behind and enter a world where people who sleep in the class learn more than those who do not, dead rats walk into classrooms wearing raincoats (and talking), little girls try to sell their toes and a bite in the arm with missing teeth hurts a lot.
  • Amelia’s Notebook series – This book series started the genre that blossomed into The Diary of the Wimpy Kid and children all over the world have been enjoying the books for decades. At one time, Amelia was even an American Girl Doll. Amelia is a relatable character who struggles with topics like moving, best friends, divorce, and feeling insecure. Kids everywhere can relate and feel understood.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth – This ingenious fantasy centers on Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock. Milo drives through the tollbooth’s gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets such characters as the foolish, yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, and the not–so–wicked “Which,” Faintly Macabre, who gives Milo the “impossible” mission of returning two princesses to the Kingdom of Wisdom.
The Pumpkin War Printable Activity Pages #mosswoodconnections #YAbooks #reluctant readers


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