| 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
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
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 that
Jack-O bobbed in the air, vines waving and getting in tangles.
It was time for
the wish. Kevin opened his mouth to ask for his game. But
as the storm tossed leaves around him, he saw his friend's face and the
words spilled out 'Make Katie's dad better'. Jack-O's orange
face split in an enormous grin. He danced in the air while he
told Kevin how to pass on the magic. Then he disappeared in a
burst of orange fireworks, full of little sparkling stars.
Katie wasn't at
school the next morning. Was Jack-O only a dream? But she
arrived late, smiling and all was well - her father was coming home on
the week-end. After school, Katie and Kevin played in the
park. The pumpkin star was grubby and shrivelled in Kevin's
pocket and the wind swished leaves gently along the ground. Kevin
and Katie tossed them at each other, kicked them into piles and jumped
Then Kevin took
out the little star and threw it high in the air. A gust of wind
picked it up. Away it spiralled, higher and higher in the sky. He
watched until it was only a little orange point and then even that
disappeared. Katie asked what he was doing. Oh nothing,
just pumpkin magic, replied Kevin with a secret smile.