Combining the great young adult novelist Rainbow Rowell with artist Faith Erin Hicks for a fun slice of life, teen graphic novel set over one day at a Pumpkin Patch is as close to a slam dunk as you can get in the comics market. The authors do not disappoint. Pumkinheads is heartwarming and fun.

High school seniors, Deja and Josiah are working their last day of their last year at the pumpkin patch. They’ve become close friends while working with each other for the past few fall seasons. While Josiah is sad about this, Deja hatches a plan to turn their last shift into an adventure by leaving their posts and taking advantage of all the experiences the pumpkin patch has to offer. This includes Josiah talking to the girl he’s been mooning over for years. The entire comic involves the two of them going to all the hot spots in the patch while talking the whole time. It becomes clear why they are best friends. The only question is why they haven’t become more than friends.

Josiah is the typical boy next door. He works hard, follows the rules and excels at his job, though he misses opportunities for happiness because he’s unwilling to take chances. Deja is willing to push the envelope in order to get what she wants. She is well liked, gregarious and fun. They make an appealing pair. As a bi person of color who is also plus size, Deja is also a refreshingly different main character than we often see.

Rowell has the main characters do a lot of talking, which helps to define their characteristics. The reader really gets to know and care about these two people. We know how they differ and why they complement each other. Hicks’ artwork is crisp and clear. With characters in conversation so much, her ability to draw different facial expressions comes in handy. The coloring by Sarah Stern is also a standout. Seeing the orange sky slowly fade to black as night falls throughout the book is notable. The colors all pop and bring life to the story and the vivid oranges and reds definitely remind us of Fall. It’s nice to see Stern use the full color palette as well after reading numerous books that limit the color to certain tones.

Pumpkinheads is a joy. Deja and Josiah connect in a way few comic characters do. Any library serving middle and high schoolers should have this book. Rowell and Hicks have made what’s sure to be a comic favorite for many teens and preteens.

Pumpkinheads
By Rainbow Rowell
Art by Faith Erin Hicks
ISBN: 9781626721623
First Second, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 14-18

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Character Traits: Black, Bisexual

 

  • Mark

    | He/Him Young Adult Librarian, Cedar Mill Library

    Reviewer

    Mark Richardson is the Young Adult Librarian at the Cedar Mill Library in Portland Oregon where he selects adult and young adult graphic novels, YA fiction & nonfiction, video games and adult music for the library. He also plans lots of activities for local teens ranging from art contests to teen trivia to Pokemon parties. If this sounds like a dream job, it is. Sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure he really gets to do all of this. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember and has been known to present an occasional conference sessions on graphic novels at the Oregon Library Association’s annual conference.

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