Riley Chester-field Mouse loves football. The problem is that real football players and their footballs are too big and too dangerous for a little field mouse to play with. When Riley tries to play, he is almost completely squashed. The Tale of the Pumpkin Seed Squad tells the story of how Riley and his friends create a game that is like football — but just the right size.
Riley is a creative and daring mouse. When he falls in love with the game of football, he doesn’t let his small size get in the way of his passion. Instead, he confidently tells his friends to meet at the field next week for a game: he’s figured out how to create a football and game that’s of perfect proportions.
Sure enough, the following week Riley arrives at the field with a huge pumpkin. He quickly explains to his friends that pumpkin seeds will make perfect footballs. They are also delicious. With the tiny players using walnut shells as helmets, pretty soon the exciting mouse football game is on.
The Tale of the Pumpkin Seed Squad is nicely illustrated by Brenda Timms. Her expressive drawings are detailed and filled with quirky good humor and charm.
While Carolyn Mitchell’s story is unique and fun, her rhymes aren’t particularly inventive or playful (ties/eyes, game/fame) and don’t rise to the level of effortless poetry; the syntax is often awkward, making the story difficult to read aloud. In addition, the book could use a more thorough copyedit; for example, the narrative overuses italics to give often seemingly random words emphasis. (“But, I want to play”, [sic] said Riley…”Look, the ball’s coming my way…” )
Nonetheless, Mitchell has created an engaging cast of characters that will entertain children. With their creativity, drive and imagination, these tiny football lovers make for very good company.
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