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November 5, 2008

Great pumpkins

Students bring their favorite characters to life in annual project

ROYAL OAK — Northwood Elementary School fourth-graders recently brought Halloween flair to the school’s media center while sharing their love of reading.

Teachers Angela Buyle and Teri Matynka had their students decorate pumpkins to resemble storybook characters as part of the fourth-grade’s Literary Pumpkins project. The students had three weeks to paint, carve, embellish and even dress their pumpkins, which were then proudly displayed on top of the media center’s bookshelves.

“They had to choose a character from a book they’ve read before,” said Buyle.

The students’ creations included some of today’s most popular characters, such as Harry Potter, Captain Underpants and Junie B. Jones, as well as longtime favorites such as Curious George and the Cat in the Hat.

Students said they enjoyed having a chance to re-create characters that are special to them.

 “I did the Cowardly Lion,” said Layne Bader, 9. “I picked it because I really like ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

“I picked mine from ‘Leonardo the Terrible Monster,’” added Luke Jorgensen, 9,  “I liked it when I first read it.”

Some students created pumpkins to represent a character from their favorite story in a series.

For example, Jenna Swastek, 9, painted her pumpkin to look like Curious George from “Curious George Goes to the Hospital.”

“I liked reading those books, and I liked when Curious George swallowed a puzzle piece,” she said, noting that her pumpkin had a puzzle piece in its mouth to represent what happened in the story.

Students also said that they had fun finding ways to decorate their pumpkins.

“I liked to cut up the hair and glue it on,” said Jessica Showers, 9, who made a pumpkin to look like Junie B. Jones from the book “Junie B. First Grader: One Man Band.”

Brendan Slusser, 9, added that he liked transforming his pumpkin into Avatar from “The Tale of Aang,” which is part of a series of books based on the popular television show “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

“I watch the show a lot and I think it’s really cool that he’s in training to be the avatar,” he said. “I especially liked attaching the fabric.”

According to Buyle, the Literary Pumpkins is an annual project for each fourth-grade class, and has become a much-anticipated part of fall for the students.

“They love it,” she said.