Author Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl) and artist Faith Erin Hicks (The Nameless City, Friends With Boys) team up for a lovely seasonal story about friendship and crushes and moving on to a new stage of life in Pumpkinheads.
Josiah and Deja are working their last night at the Pumpkin Patch (which is more like a minor amusement park, with food booths and attractions and a giant corn maze). It’s Halloween, after which the patch shuts down, and they’re getting ready to go off to college, so this is more than the end of the season.
For three years, Josiah has had a crush on the girl who works in the Fudge Shoppe, and Deja is determined to make him finally talk to her. However, the night is so busy that she keeps getting reassigned, so the book consists of Deja and Josiah chasing around trying to find her, taking us through (among other locations) the Pie Palace, the S’mores Pit, the Succotash Hut, the Tour de Pumpkin pedal cars, and the Freeto Pie Stop. (I love frito pie. It’s the only way I eat chili.)
The outcome of the story is somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed spending time with these two, so I didn’t mind that much of the plot was waiting for the resolution to arrive, as we see a ton of neat attractions and silly food items along their journey. The appeal of this kind of story is the journey, not the outcome, after all. It’s a fun trip around the park, with astounding art by Hicks. She does a fabulous job both with the setting and the expressive characters, working through a range of emotions. She’s also terrific with action, as Deja and Josiah ramble and run and snack and worry. The art is transparent, never drawing showy attention to itself but carrying the reader along easily.
The characters’ ongoing conversation covers their past together, what they’re looking for in a date, and what they like. The dialogue, as expected from a Rowell script, is real and authentic and enlightening. Deja is particularly clever, dispensing puns and life lessons in equal measure. I appreciated the overall message, contrasting the appeal of visuals and assumptions with someone you can really talk to.
Pumpkinheads is a cute seasonal read, comfy like a blanket on a fall night.