<b>How Mildred's garden grows</b> Let me admit this right now: I like to grow plants and I have stood for hours at garden shops, weighing the difference between worm castings and cow manure. So, I understand the care that 11-year-old Mildred takes when she sets out to win the Circleville, Ohio, Pumpkin Show. I feel her anxiety when she has to thin out the seedlings and leave the growing fruit behind during a weekend trip. Mildred is trying, once again, to fulfill her late mother's dream of growing a prize-winning pumpkin. Each year, her dreams are dashed for one reason or another. And, while the seasons are changing and the pumpkins are growing, Mildred is growing too. Her Aunt Arlene tries to notice the changes and, in her own loving but pushy way, encourages Mildred to pay attention to fashion and other girlie things. Arlene worries about Mildred's obsession with pumpkins and does her best to encourage her to follow other pursuits. Luckily for Mildred, her father not only understands his only child, he knows how to challenge her to grow into the strong young woman her mother always knew she would become.

In <b>Me and the Pumpkin Queen</b> author Marlane Kennedy paints a warm picture of a real family, quietly going about the job of living each day, healing and growing pumpkins. Young readers and listeners will enjoy finding out how things turn out for Mildred. This marvelously heartwarming story deserves a big blue ribbon!

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