Originally published in 2016, The Pumpkin Project won that year’s Top Tales competition run by ITV’s Lorraine. The book is a funny, warm and engagingly inter-generational story of how young Lottie Parsons teams-up with her grandfather to put one over on the obnoxious school bully, Penelope Pembleton-Puce.
To be fair, Lottie’s home life is a bit of a shambles. Her parents have split-up and her mom hasn’t taken too well to life as a lone parent while her granddad, who lives with them, has gone into his shell since he lost his wife. So it’s hardly surprising that Lottie’s school work is suffering – she’s always late and not terribly well groomed, which makes her a target for sneaky girls like Penelope.
When it comes time for the big announcement of the year’s school project and prize, Lottie is resigned to the fact that she won’t win and Penelope will (aided and abetted by the bribes her rich parents lavish on the teachers). The topic is BIG AND SMALL and despite herself, Lottie would love to win.
Little does she know that when she tells her mom and granddad about the competition, it will be the start of a big adventure that will change everything for her and will help her granddad find himself again.
I’m not going to spoil the story for you by telling you what happens – you can read that for yourself – but what I can tell you is that it involves secret recipes for growing humungous vegetables, a mysterious machine called a Muzzlescrump, hedgehog/porcupine poo and the biggest shock Penelope Pemberton-Puce has ever had.
The book is charmingly illustrated by Sarah Jennings who captures the mood of the book and the personalities of the characters beautifully.
All of this would make Katie Smith’s book a great gift for a young reader but this is also a book with another purpose. At the age of just 30, the author was diagnosed with brain cancer which will limit the years she has left with her family. As a result Katie has thrown herself into raising funds to support brain tumour research and proceeds from the sales of this book will go to that good cause – something which we can all support.
Buying a copy of this book won’t just get you a top notch children’s story it’s also going to contribute to the fight against an illness like brain cancer that is so destructive to individuals and their families.
Go on, do the right thing.
(This article was originally published on The Letterpress Project website)