Weekend Heller: Counting Pumpkins, A MILLION Dollars

The March of Pumpkins
Stephen Savage, author of “Where’s Walrus, Polar Bear Night, Making Tracks and more,” pays homage to pumpkins in his latest children’s book “Ten Orange Pumpkins.” Its a mystery of sorts. Who decimated (as in killing off of ten) the crop? You’ll have to read it (to your child) to find out. Nonetheless, I asked Stephen to answer some probing queries.

After bears, boats and walruses, why a book on pumpkins? My agent, Brenda Bowen, suggested the idea. As I started to work on it, I saw the chance to do an entire book in a ’50s noir style and that excited me. And then as I worked on it further, I saw the possibilities for interesting secondary narratives, taking it way beyond a banal counting book.

Tell me about the covers. Why so many? The book features a variety of characters and settings, so one emblematic image wasn’t going to represent the entire book. Basically, I was left with the job of creating an attention-getting image out of a boring old row or cluster of pumpkins. And that took some work.

PUMPCOVER 14PUMPKINcoversb 14PUMPKINcoversAThis is a dark subject. How dark did you want to get? The book is for kids as young as two, so we had to walk the fine line between spooky and scary.

Do you like the color orange? Oh yes! And it’s a kid color. Think of traffic cones, “men at work” signs, carrots and orange juice! I like it, just as long as it’s NOT on me. I really only look decent dressed in blue.

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Inflationary Junk Mail
Look what I got in the mail. It was a handwritten address and through the envelope I could discern what looked like a $100 bill. There seems to be a rash of junk mail solicitations that look to average bozo (like me) real, until when opened its for 5 cents or some ridiculous amount. But this truly had me fooled. So much for the death of snail mail. This ploy worked a lot better than the barrage of email for sex enhancements or religious dating services. I think I might even be fooled the next time.

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Additional Resource
For more articles by Steven Heller, pick up a copy of the current issue of Print, the Design and Storytelling issue.

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