Cover image for Pumpkinhead
Rohmann, Eric.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 20 cm
A boy with a pumpkin for a head learns a valuable lesson about what it means to be different.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 75122.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Current Holiday Item Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PIC BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

On Order



Otho was born with a pumpkin for a head. And despite what one might think, he was not seen as a curiosity by his family. So begins this brilliantly droll tale of a very unusual boy. Otho loses his pumpkin head-quite literally-when a bat decides it would make a good home. And despite what one might think, this is not the end for Otho, but the beginning of a great adventure. Is Otho's story a parable? A cautionary tale? A celebration of the individual? A head trip? That is something each reader (and Otho) will have to decide. . . . .

Author Notes

Eric Rohmann is a painter, printmaker, and fine bookmaker whose work both explores and generates the heady excitement of an imagination unleashed. His first book for young readers, Time Flies , received a Caldecott Honor Award.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS-Gr. 1. Otho was born with a pumpkin for a head. His parents are unfazed by this anomaly as their son heads out on the adventure of life. First, a black bat wanting to nest in Otho's head flies off with it. Pumpkins are heavy, however, and the bird drops Pumpkinhead into the sea. Otho floats until a fish swallows him--but a squid squeezes the fish, and Otho pops out like a cork. He's caught by a fisherman and taken to a fish market, where his mother finds him, takes him home, and reunites him with his body, which, luckily for Otho, has been kept in a cool, dry place. The blue, black, and orange relief prints provide heft for the story. The borders and images outlined in thick black lines entice children from page to page while the seriocomic style adds buoyancy. The black cover with a die-cut center square framing Otho's pumpkinhead sets the stage perfectly. The message about individuality will bypass kids, but they'll be intrigued with the quirky, imaginative misadventure. Forget the logic, this story grows on you. --Julie Cummins Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rohmann reprises the spacious block-print style of his Caldecott Medal-winning My Friend Rabbit in this quirky tale of a boy with a round pumpkin for a head. Like Stuart Little, Otho looks peculiar among his human family, but an affectionate snapshot shows that his parents accept him. While tossing a ball outside, he gets into trouble with a black bat who "thought Otho's head would make a fine place to live." The bat swoops down and swipes Otho's head. The absurdity continues as the head falls into the ocean (Otho squeezes his oval eyes shut before splashdown), gets swallowed by a fish and ends up at a seafood market. Otho wears a benign, apprehensive smile until his mother comes along ("after some spirited dickering, she bought Otho's head and a half-pound of mackerel") and rejoins him with his body. Given the bat and pumpkin, this could be a Halloween read, but mild Otho is neither spooky nor fierce. The surreal story primarily affords Rohmann the chance to experiment with design. The square book cover frames a charming, die-cut portrait of Otho; inside, dynamic thick black outlines border the pared-down but energetic relief prints. Rohmann places high-contrast black details in expansive white space, and complements the orange of Otho's head with soft shades of blue. The wry tone and theme places this alongside his more sophisticated The Cinder-Eyed Cats and Time Flies. Ages 5-9. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-A perfect blend of art and text works together to convey the adventures of a boy born "with a pumpkin for a head." A crafty flying bat plucks up Otho's head and explains in rhyme why he drops it into the sea. After a large fish swallows it, an even larger squid squeezes the fish, with Otho shooting out, "like a cork from a popgun." In excellent pacing, the next page shows the pumpkin-head hero drifting at sea, then scooped up by a fisherman. Young children are sure to enjoy the bouncing rhythm of the fisherman's words as he compares Otho to all the other types of fish he has netted. Besides black and white, Rohmann consistently uses shades of blue and patches of orange throughout. In this artwork, less is truly more. The multiple-color relief prints done on an etching press, with large white space surrounding smaller, movie-still-like pictures, enhance the visual appeal. In Otho's face, Rohmann captures the vulnerable emotions of a lost child, and the wide smiles when returning to a mother's embrace. Gather your little pumpkin heads close to you in the fall as you read them this tale and watch their faces light up with a glowing grin.-James K. Irwin, Poplar Creek Main Library, Steamwood, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.