The Magic Pumpkin
by Hilary Williamson
It was a sunny Fall day, crisp and blue and gold. Kevin and his friend Katie climbed onto the school bus, heading for the Pumpkin Patch. They sat on the back bench and had fun bouncing around. But Katie was grumpy. She didn't want to go on the trip. She hated cold Fall weather and pumpkins and everything.
The bus parked at the farm. There was an enormous pile of orange pumpkins beside a wagon and tractor. Everyone rushed for the wagon. Kevin and Katie sat in the front as it headed out. They watched the huge wheels of the tractor bump slowly over ruts in the dirt path. More bouncing! Then the tractor stopped.
On either side long rows of pumpkins lay in the dust, each in its own tangle of vines. They were all different sizes and shades of orange, with light brown patches. The driver said the ones with stalks lasted longer. Kevin and Katie ran down the same dusty row. Kevin worried when bigger kids ran past and grabbed the best pumpkins. Soon Katie said she didn't care anyway and picked up the next one on the ground. Kevin kept looking.
Time was up and Kevin was still empty handed. He ran faster. Then he saw one the others had missed. It was small and a clear orange in color, with a little brown mark shaped like a star. It was perfect. Kevin pulled it off its vines, held the prickly stem carefully and ran back to the bus. Katie said it was ugly and they quarrelled.
That night Kevin's father cut open the pumpkin, scooped out its insides and carved it. The pumpkin grinned at them - a lopsided, mischievous kind of a grin. Kevin cut a star shaped nose with his dad's help, and saved the piece. He put the pumpkin on his bedside table and tucked the little star under his pillow.
He fell asleep and dreamed that he was back in the Pumpkin Patch. His pumpkin had long vine legs and arms, and called itself Jack-O. Jack-O told Kevin that he could have one wish, anything at all. Kevin badly wanted a new video game. The kids at school were all talking about it.
All the next day, Kevin imagined playing the game. He wanted to tell Katie on the bus home, but she was cross and wouldn't talk. She seemed sad as well as grumpy. So Kevin asked his mother and father at supper time about Katie's dad in hospital. Their worried faces answered him.
It was hard to get to sleep that night. When he did, with the little star under his pillow, Kevin found himself back in the Pumpkin Patch. It was a stormy Fall day with leaves flying everywhere, red and orange and brown. The wind blew so hard th