Eric Rohmann's Website
Pumpkinhead by Eric Rohmann
My Friend Rabbit
Roaring Brook Press, 2002
ISBN: 978-0-43957-930-8, hardcover
Square Fish, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-31236-752-7, paperback


by Eric Rohmann

Otho was born with a pumpkin for a head. And despite what one might think, he was not seen as a curiosity by his family. So begins this brilliantly droll tale of a very unusual boy. Otho loses his pumpkin head–quite literally–when a bat decides it would make a good home. And despite what one might think, this is not the end for Otho, but the beginning of a great adventure.

Is Otho’s story a parable? A cautionary tale? A celebration of the individual? A head trip? That is something each reader (and Otho) will have to decide...

From Eric:

“What happens when you are different than everyone else around you? In this book, a boy named Otho is born with a pumpkin for a head, but is well loved and happy. One day his life is turned upside down (quite literally) and he has an adventure which tests him. In the end I wanted to show that even if you are swept up in the wave of the world you can find some delight and knowledge along the way. Curiously, this is my most controverisal book.  Some like the book’s humor (usually four-year olds and adult musicians), others wonder how I could possibly decapitate the main character in a children’s book.

The small images, relief prints made in just four colors, have a special place for me. This is the book that shows how I thought as a kid—slightly warped, sarcastic, and weird, just like me when I was seven.”


Illustration from Pumpkinhead. Copyright Eric Rohmann

New York Times
In this story of love, disaster and astonishing good luck, Eric Rohmann twines threads from folklore, popular culture, printmaking and the book arts. He's a storyteller and artist who understands his form — the picture book — very well indeed. The art features bold black lines, like the pictures in Rohmann’s My Friend Rabbit, which won the 2003 Caldecott Medal, with a simple palette of sapphire blue, light blue and, of course, pumpkin orange. Most of the pictures are small, surrounded by white margins. Where he varies the format it's for dramatic effect, as when an ambitious bat, supposing he would like to live in Otho's head, flies right out of the boundary of the picture with the amazed pumpkin head in its claws, leaving the boy’s body behind.
— Susan Marie Swanson

School Library Journal
A perfect blend of art and text works together to convey the adventures of a boy born “with a pumpkin for a head.” A crafty flying bat plucks up Otho's head and explains in rhyme why he drops it into the sea. After a large fish swallows it, an even larger squid squeezes the fish, with Otho shooting out, “like a cork from a popgun.” In excellent pacing, the next page shows the pumpkin-head hero drifting at sea, then scooped up by a fisherman. Young children are sure to enjoy the bouncing rhythm of the fisherman’s words as he compares Otho to all the other types of fish he has netted. Besides black and white, Rohmann consistently uses shades of blue and patches of orange throughout. In this artwork, less is truly more. The multiple-color relief prints done on an etching press, with large white space surrounding smaller, movie-still-like pictures, enhance the visual appeal. In Otho’s face, Rohmann captures the vulnerable emotions of a lost child, and the wide smiles when returning to a mother’s embrace. Gather your little pumpkin heads close to you in the fall as you read them this tale and watch their faces light up with a glowing grin.
—James K. Irwin, Poplar Creek Main Library, Steamwood, IL

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