Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In a warmhearted debut novel, Hill shows what happens when a serious-minded girl is forced to reevaluate her priorities and reach out to others. Twelve-year-old Rose Brutigan might not feel comfortable about her appearance (she's grown seven inches since fall and towers over her twin brother, Thomas), but she's confident about her ability to be a disciplined student both at school and when playing cello. As Rose prepares for an upcoming cello competition, Thomas and a neighbor, Mr. Pickering, need her help with another project: growing a giant pumpkin from a special and valuable seed. In spite of herself, Rose becomes increasingly absorbed by the gardening project and finds new neighborhood friends along the way, including reticent Mrs. Kiyo and noisy "Calamity" Jane, a girl Rose's age. When a terrible accident renders Rose's left hand useless and her precious cello broken, it takes the support of her newfound friends to carry her through hard times and open her up to new interests. Offering distinctive characters, a relatable plot, and some useful gardening tips, Hill's story promotes connectivity in neighborhoods and communities. Ages 9-12. Agent: Carrie Hannigan, HSG Agency. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-Though Rose and Thomas are twins, Rose is much taller and two grades ahead of her brother in school. While he easily makes friends and socializes with classmates, she is a devoted student and cello player. This begins to change as Thomas embarks on a project to grow a giant pumpkin from a seed he found in the basement of their neighbor's house. The project unites an eclectic and diverse (in age and background) group of neighbors who work together to grow a pumpkin that is big enough to enter into the state fair. The book is a bittersweet tribute to the experience of growing up in a close-knit neighborhood; characters are written with care and depth. Mrs. Holling, Rose's cello teacher, is particularly nuanced. In one scene between Rose and Mrs. Holling, the older woman holds Rose's hands as she asks her not to practice so much so she can have time to be a kid (including digging in the dirt to help her brother take care of his pumpkin.) Students will identify with Rose's over-scheduled calendar and perfectionist tendencies, and would be lucky to have an understanding mentor like Mrs. Holling. At times the book feels like it may veer into saccharine territory, but the author's bold writing usually prevents this from happening. Hill describes an accident that abruptly halts Rose's cello-playing, proving she doesn't shy away from addressing complex sadness and grief. Hill strives to portray an inclusive community, though a few of the secondary characters are somewhat stereotyped. (For example, a neighbor who is Mexican speaks in a mixture of Spanish and English phrases that don't quite ring true.) However, Hill's skilled character development prevents this from being a larger problem in the book. VERDICT Fans of Sharon Creech's Moo and other books about intergenerational friendship will enjoy this book.-Celia Dillon, The Brearley School, New York © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Rose knows how she's going to spend her summer practicing her beloved cello, inching closer toward her goal of taking the top prize at the Bach Cello Suites Competition. Her twin, Thomas, is happy just to time her practice sessions and hang out with their neighbor Mr. Pickering. But the two siblings find themselves coming together to work on a larger project, a giant project, that starts with a single pumpkin seed. This debut novel is a creative account of one 12-year-old trying to figure out what defines her and how she can still be herself if one of her defining traits is taken away. Hill has created a rich world within the twins' neighborhood, every neighbor distinct and important to the story in their own ways. The final act of their pumpkin adventure seems a little cartoonish, but the conclusion is sweet and satisfying. This is a must-read for music lovers, math enthusiasts, and all who extend the boundaries of their families to their whole block.--Horan, Molly Copyright 2017 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Rose likes to set goals for herself. Win the cello competition so she can study with a famous maestro. Stop growing so much taller than her twin brother Thomas. Keep her hair under control at all times. You are twelve and youre living the life of an intensely focused middle-aged woman, her mother tells her. Growing a giant pumpkin is nowhere on Roses list of summer plans, but when her cello teacher tells her to ease up on her practicing, she reluctantly joins Thomas in helping their neighbor, Mr. Pickering, with a cultivation project that ultimately draws in the whole neighborhood. When an accident with Mr. Pickerings saw puts an end to Roses cello-playing for the summer, Rose has to deal with her grief and her place in the community. A variety of subplots--an elderly Japanese neighbor introduces the tea ceremony and the concept of kintsugi, mending with gold; a con man convinces the group to enter the pumpkin in the Minnesota State Fair--add depth to the novel, and Roses earnest struggles with her precocious appearance and oddball tendencies keep a unique character from descending into twee quirkiness. Although the development of the kintsugi metaphor and the depiction of the con mans hayseed persona approach the boundaries of overwriting, on the whole Hill delivers an emotionally resonant story. sarah rettger (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
When a girl's giant talent seems finished, a giant pumpkin demonstrates life's just beginning.Rose Brutigan, a 12-year-old white girl, towers over her twin brother in more ways than one. She's a focused, numbers-loving cello prodigy who practices tirelessly for the upcoming Bach Cello Suites Competition. Having grown extremely tall during the school year, she's usually regarded as the older sibling. Short, nonmusical Thomas is literally more down-to-earth. He's obsessed with growing a huge pumpkin in their elderly neighbor's yard. Two serious accidents caused by Rose's recklessness, plus her musical-genius idol's inexcusable rudeness, force Rose to acknowledge that she may never play, let alone compete, again. Enter the pumpkin. Not only does Rose become engrossed in Thomas' project, so do others. Their multiethnic, multicultural neighbors bond as they contribute scraps to a prodigious compost pile to nourish a record-breaking pumpkin; soon, everyone anticipates another competitionfor giant vegetables at the state fair. Rose's friends and family are a marvelous group; readers will rejoice as they get to know these delightful folk and learn their many varied interestsand enormous-gourd-growing techniques. The local library and Charlotte's Web also play pivotal roles. Rose develops in maturity and awareness about herself and others and learns important life lessons. There's abundant warmth, humor, and heart in this charmer, and readers will root for both characters and pumpkin. A winning debut. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.