7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #610: Featuring Arthur Geisert

h1 October 28th, 2018 by jules


Arthur Geisert’s latest book, Pumpkin Island (Enchanted Lion, October 2018), is set in the very place the author-illustrator calls home — Elkader, a small city in northeast Iowa. In this story, a storm arrives, sweeping a pumpkin down the river. After it breaks into pieces and arrives on a small island, the seeds sprout, vines stretch, and before anyone knows it, the vines have stretched across the bridge and into town — and pumpkins begin to appear everywhere.

To say the townsfolk are excited by the appearance of so many pumpkins is an understatement. They do fun and “sometimes, even dangerous things” with the pumpkins; they even build catapults and fling them across town. They decorate with them, cook with them, build a festival around them, build with the biggest of them (some become boats and “little houses”), and more: “The pumpkins were everywhere!” Right after they become problematic, they are gathered and lit for the “biggest Halloween celebration ever.”

If the legendary Geisert is new to you, by chance, he is — as this newspaper piece (local to Iowa) notes — 77 years old and has been creating children’s books for more than 40 years. The illustrations in this book were made from copperplate etchings (first hand-printed and then hand-colored with watercolors), and they include buildings he passes every day. (I love how in that piece, he says about his city: “I’m able to walk to everything, grocery store, drugstore, post office, bank, everything is easy walking distance. That’s why I’m here.”)

I like this strange, sprawling story, one that includes elements of the fantastical and magical, about a town overrun by orange, and the spread in which we see that Halloween has arrived is striking. Below is a bit more art from the book.


“The pumpkin broke into pieces when it hit a small island. The soil there was very rich,
so before long, the pumpkin’s seeds began to sprout.
Vines grew and stretched across the river, all the way to the bridge.”

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“When Main Street was all filled up with pumpkins, the town held its very first
pumpkin festival. People made pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie,
and sweet pumpkin spice to serve with their coffee.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“And they just kept growing. They became such a problem that people started
carting them away to the abandoned stone quarry.”

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


PUMPKIN ISLAND. Text and illustration copyright © 2018 by Arthur Geisert. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Enchanted Lion, New York.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m typing this on Saturday, having just read the news about the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. It is so, so sad, and the President’s toxic response (more guns, more guns, more guns) is no help.

May some of the music I heard this week do some small part to bring comfort.

1) Here is a group of talented musicians (Brandi Carlile, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and Jerry Douglas) covering a song I’ve loved a (very) long time, “Calling All Angels” by Jane Siberry:



2) Here is Rufus Wainwright singing a new song about which he wrote (on social media): “The famed, ancient expression ‘Sword of Damocles’ is a parable of impending doom of and to those in positions of power. This timeless tale points out the hard fact that with great power comes great responsibility, and for all concerned, great danger. VOTE.”

My god, I love every note of this. “Raise kindness above all else.”



3) Here is Kasey Musgraves covering another song I’ve loved for a long time, Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.” As Lars Gotrich writes here, she turns it into a lullaby. I love it.



I think that’s it for me this week, except I’ll add this: I was moved to read that Matthew Shepard was finally laid to rest in a service led in part by the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church. “Gently rest in this place, you are safe now. Matthew, welcome home.”

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #610: Featuring Arthur Geisert”

  1. Happy Sunday, Imps! Enjoy the pumpkins, both illustrated and real, and have a safe and happy Halloween.

    Jules: Thank you for the music.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Filming
    2) Performing
    3) Singing
    4) Dancing
    5) Music
    6) Cheering
    7) Living

  2. Happy Sunday to you Jules.

    Thank you for sharing the new Arthur Geisert book. I think I will need to have it in my collection. And thank you for the music. The news this week and yesterday is devastating. I hold on to the hope children’s literature for all ages is creating a better world book by book.

    I love your final kick, Little Willow. Each day of living is indeed a kick.

    My kicks:
    1. I just finished Jonathan Auxier’s Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster and it’s a masterpiece of storytelling.
    2. Picture books
    3. A single precious day of sun on Monday
    4. Halloween book giveaway
    5. Kindness
    6. Friendship
    7. The comfort of my wild child, Mulan.

    Wishing everyone a safe week.

  3. Jone emailed me her kicks, because she was having trouble posting. They are:


    Ooh this is the perfect. I love the illustrations.
    Jules, thank you for uplift and comfort of music. My wish is for the violence to stop.
    My kicks:
    1. Home after two weeks away.
    2. Niece and her family.
    3. Ancestral graves.
    4. Highlights Foundation Poetry Workshop.
    5. Picking up Chuck and seeing cousins in NJ.
    6. Washington, DC.
    7. Reuniting with my boy, Buster

  4. Little Willow, filming. Ooh!

    Margie: I am currently reading SWEEP to my daughters, and we looove it. We are probably 3/4 of the way done. I’m so glad you loved it. Can’t wait to get to the end. …. Hugs to Mulan, and here’s to a better week.

    Jone: I saw some of your travel photos on social media. Looked so fun.

    Here’s to a better, more loving week, you all.

  5. Love these pumpkins! Thanks for sharing such bright, happy illustrations, and a cool backstory on the author and his town.

    Jules – thank you for sharing the music. I had heard the news about Matthew Shepard, and am looking forward to reading the piece you linked.

    LW – Hooray for all your joyous kicks this week! The good that comes from all that joy spreads outward.

    Margie – Rare sun, kindness, friendship and Mulan are such beautiful kicks.

    In the wake of such awfulness this week, and what can sometimes feel like overwhelming awfulness in the news cycle lately, I have tried to find the tiny spots of light. My kicks this week:
    1) A 13 year old boy here in Portland, OR – Rishab Jain -just won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for coming up with an algorithm that may help treat pancreatic cancer.
    2) Jade Hameister, 16, the youngest person to pull off the Polar Hat Trick was just named Australia Geographic’s Young Adventurer of the Year.
    3) Waking up to a rain shower this morning, and staying in bed to listen to it.
    4) A surprise birthday party for a friend on Friday – good music, good food, good people.
    5) Getting to see the real Halloweentown at dusk this past week. It was middle of the week, so not crowded at all, and charming. (I haven’t seen the movie, but I will watch it this year.)
    6) I voted! Oregon has vote-by-mail and early voting, I always drop my vote off in one of the drive-by ballot drop boxes in town.
    7) Sunshine after the rain.
    7.5) Daisy got a bath yesterday, so she is super soft for snuggles right now.

    Hope everyone can find pockets of joy and good in the coming week! Happy Halloween!

  6. I missed Jone’s kicks in posting – glad you had such good travels, and yay for coming home to sweet Buster

  7. Rachel, all good kicks, and I love that Rishab is from Portland. High-five for voting early. I hope to this week. Love your third kick, as I’m a pluviophile. (Also, I love the word ‘pluviophile.’) Hugs, as always, to Daisy!

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