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Children create pumpkin characters

By Jim Conrad, jconrad@wcyb.com
Published On: Oct 01 2012 04:48:38 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 01 2012 04:18:35 PM CDT

A unique elementary school library project brings book characters to life using pumpkins.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

It's the symbol of the season, be it fall or Halloween: the pumpkin. We carve it, we cook it and we use it for all kinds of decorations.

There may be a new use for it as a tool to encourage kids to read. It's a library project that has lots of characters.

The librarian at Lake Ridge Elementary got a surprise Monday morning. It was as if the recent rains had caused pumpkins to sprout all over the library.

The librarian had announced a pumpkin decorating contest. "I sent a letter home to the whole school and said there's a $20 gift certificate to the book fair involved as a prize. I'm pretty sure now I'm going to have to come up with something for everybody, because this is just amazing," librarian Maria LaBarbera said.

The idea was simple just create a pumpkin or gourd in the likeness of a character from a book you've read and the results are impressive.

"It's a gourd. We got feathers that we used last year when we made a turkey. So we used feathers and we glued them all to the gourd and there was feathers flying all around our house," second grader Haley Jones said.

Take a look around and you'll see the creative minds at work, of course with a little help from their parents. "We did hedgehog and we put toothpicks for the quills. We spray painted the quills with brown spray paint," says fourth grader Tucker Herald.

"We took like a foam cone and me and my Dad braided the hair and wrapped it around the cone," Eden Rowland said sitting next to her Cindy Lou Who pumpkin.

There may be some characters that are not familiar to everyone but that's perfectly alright. "For a lot of them they're modern book characters that a lot of older people might not be familiar with, which I love seeing. The kids are keeping up with what's new in literature but also some classic characters like the Cat in the Hat which is nice too," Labarbera said.

And you can bet you won't see their characters sitting on the front porches of the neighborhoods, but the kids know where to find them anytime of year -- in the books they read.