The Ottumwa Courier

October 31, 2012

A pumpkin explosion at Douma Elementary

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The library at Douma Elementary School has a lot of character. Though it might be more accurate to say it simply has a lot of characters.

The librarian and the school secretary told Principal Jeff Hendred that to promote the school’s upcoming book fair, they wanted students and teachers to decorate pumpkins so they’d look like characters from library books. They got the go ahead, made the announcement — and waited.

“I didn’t even know if anyone was going to do it,” said Jill Morgan, the school secretary who talked on the phone with their “Scholastic Books” sales representative to come up with the idea.

Two weeks went by.

“After a while, a few came in. Four of them. And that’s when it happened,” said Joni Nicholson, the school librarian. “I’m running out of room to put them all, but that’s a good problem.”

The school population saw how “wild” the first four were; kids were surprised to see pumpkins completely painted, or with accessories glued to them or pinned to other pumpkins to make shapes.

“There were no rules,” said Morgan, “except it had to be based on a book.”

The first few that got the ball rolling, they said, included a green Grinch, a black cat, a scarecrow and Spiderman. It’s nearly impossible to see the color orange on any of those.

“It’s so cool,” said Nicholson. “ We usually do some sort of promotion for the book sale, but this is the most kid centered.”

It’s not a contest, she added.

Which makes the creativity — and the number of submissions — all the more surprising to the two organizers. They’d hoped for a dozen entries this first year. There were 57 entries Tuesday morning. And more are arriving.

“Kids keep coming in just to see the new pumpkins,” said the librarian, “and parents are coming to the library after school.”